Why are airlines concerned?
Airlines quickly take passengers from one part of the globe to another. One sick passenger on a plane could theoretically infect hundreds of people who are connecting to flights to dozens of other countries. Health and airline officials note, however, that Ebola only spreads through direct contact. No airborne transmission has been documented.
Should people travel to West Africa?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday issued a warning for Americans to avoid nonessential travel to the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
What are airlines saying about it?
U.S. airlines said they are in regular communication with government agencies and health officials and will follow their recommendations.
European carriers note that “there is no risk of getting infected by the Ebola virus via air circulation during flight.” Crews on Brussels Airlines flights have access to special thermoscans to check passengers’ temperature, if they feel it’s necessary. And British Airways has briefed all crew members flying to the region about the “causes and symptoms of Ebola.”
The only airline, so far, to cancel any flights is the Middle East airline Emirates. It has suspended its service to Conakry, Guinea, until further notice. It is still flying to Dakar.
Are passengers leaving Africa being screened?
CDC workers in Africa are helping to screen passengers at airports, according to CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden.
Has the airline industry dealt with any outbreaks in the past?
In 2003, there was a global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. The disease was first reported in Asia but quickly spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America and Europe. Unlike Ebola, SARS can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. During the 2003 outbreak, 8,098 people worldwide became sick with SARS; 774 of those died.
Airports started screening incoming passengers for fever. The disease was devastating for airlines because fearful passengers stayed home.AP