April 15, 2014
WHO says health ministries in Guinea, Liberia and other affected countries have reported about 200 confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.
The vast majority of victims are in Guinea, where officials have reported 168 cases, including 108 deaths. Liberia reports 13 deaths from the disease.
News reports Tuesday said Gambian authorities have ordered airlines not to pick up passengers from affected countries.
The Gambia bans flights from ebola-hit countries
Health workers wearing protective suits walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea. Photo / AFP
The Gambia has banned flights from Ebola-hit west African countries from landing in its territory, airport officials said.
Staff at Banjul International Airport said on condition of anonymity that President Yahya Jammeh had ordered airlines to cancel all flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
“This decision by the Gambian authorities has left prospective passengers travelling to Banjul … stranded in these west African countries,” said an airport official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Brussels Airlines, which transits in Freetown from Europe, is only allowed to drop passengers there, but not pick anyone up.”
The outbreak in Guinea is one of the deadliest in history, with 168 cases “clinically compatible” with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, since the start of the year, according to the World Health Organisation.
The outbreak began in the impoverished country’s southern forests, but has spread to Conakry, a sprawling port city on the Atlantic coast and home to two million people
Neighbouring Liberia has reported 20 probable or suspected cases, six lab-confirmed cases and 13 deaths.
Mali also had suspected cases but was given the all-clear on Tuesday after samples taken from patients tested negative for Ebola in laboratories, the health ministry told reporters in Bamako.
There was no official confirmation of the ban from the Gambia but AFP has seen a letter dated April 10 from the transport ministry notifying airlines of the measures while Sierra Leone’s government said it was in talks with Banjul over the issue.
It was not immediately clear if sanctions were being threatened against airlines or airport authorities for ignoring the ban.
“I went to the Gambia Bird (airlines) office in the Greater Banjul area to purchase an air ticket for my elder brother currently in Monrovia but was informed by the travel agent that they are not selling tickets to passengers travelling from Monrovia and Freetown,” Banjul resident Nyima Sanneh told AFP.