Between Aug. 12-13, 2014, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Some airlines and social media and traditional media vehicles expressed concern that air travel to and from affected countries was a high-risk activity for the spread of Ebola. To correct this misunderstanding, the World Health Organization (WHO) called a press conference at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva on Aug. 14, 2014. Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, speaking on behalf of WHO, said, “Air travel, even from Ebola-affected countries, is low-risk for Ebola transmission.”
Nuttall further clarified modes of transmission for Ebola and emphasized that the disease is not an airborne virus, unlike influenza or tuberculosis. The infection is transmitted to others through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, such as blood, vomit, sweat, and diarrhoea. Even if an individual infected with EVD travels by plane, the likelihood of other passengers and crew coming into contact with the individual’s bodily fluids is very low.
WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied except in cases where individuals have been confirmed or are suspected of being infected with EVD or where individuals have had contact with cases of EVD. (Contacts do not include properly-protected health-care workers and laboratory staff.)
On Aug. 13, 2014, heads of Global Information Systems (GIS) for WHO, UN agencies, intergovernmental agencies, and partners met to continue mapping the EVD crisis and create an interagency common operations picture. This will allow WHO and other organizations responding to the crisis in the affected countries to pinpoint where personnel and material should be concentrated for an effective end to the outbreak.