NEW YORK – The spread of Ebola from the West African epicenter cannot be stopped by restricting air travel or by closing borders, the World Health Organization in Geneva confirmed to WND Friday.
“The problem with air travel is that a person is not infectious unless they are actually showing symptoms,” Gregory Hartl, WHO spokesman in Geneva, told WND in a telephone interview.
“So if you were infected a week ago, but you don’t have a fever or any other symptoms yet, you can fly and you’re not infectious; you’re not a danger to anyone,” he said.
Hartl confirmed that a person with the Ebola virus might appear healthy while traveling but will manifest symptoms after reaching the destination country.
“There’s no way to detect beforehand that the person is going to get sick. That’s one reason border closures don’t work,” he said. “How are you going to stop a person who’s apparently well from traveling? You can’t.”
Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel alert on Thursday, warning to avoid unnecessary travel to the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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In addition to warning travelers to avoid travel to West Africa, the CDC has begun assisting the governments of the West African nations with active screening and education efforts on the ground to prevent sick travelers from getting on airplanes.
The CDC has begun implementing protocols asking all airlines flying to or from West Africa to notify CDC immediately of all ill passengers on an airplane before arrival. The protocols include investigating all ill passengers and, if necessary, quarantining them.
WND has previously reported the CDC has issued guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft.
At the moment, CDC is not screening or tracking U.S. passengers traveling to or from West Africa.
“The Ebola virus disease is very frightening,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Freiden said in a press briefing by telephone Thursday.
“It is frankly a dreadful and merciless virus. The current outbreak is bad. It’s the biggest, most complex and the first time it’s been present in this region of the world, which means that response systems and community understanding of the disease is not what it is elsewhere. It’s been deadly, and far too many lives have already been lost.”
The CDC has called for a “surge,” sending 50 CDC disease-control specialists into the three impacted West African countries over the next 30 days in a determined effort to contain the Ebola outbreak.
“These individuals will help countries establish emergency operations centers that can develop a structured and effective way of addressing the outbreak,” Frieden said.
“This is being done in close collaboration with the World Health Organization. They will also help strengthen laboratory networks so testing for the disease can be done rapidly.”
WND has separately reported WHO, after admitting the rate of Ebola infection in West Africa is increasing, called for $100 million to send dozens of health professionals and equipment into Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as soon as possible.
WHO has also confirmed the one case of Ebola reported in Nigeria resulted from the person traveling by air from Ghana, with the risk of having exposed 15 airport staff and 44 hospital workers in Nigeria with the disease.