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WHO criticizes airlines for canceling flights to West Africa

The World Health Organization expressed frustration that undue concern about the spread of Ebola through international travel has prompted airlines to cancel flights into Ebola-affected countries, making it "Hard to save lives if we and other health workers can't get in."
By JC Finley   |   Aug. 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM   |   Comments

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization took to Twitter on Thursday to emphasize the minimal risk Ebola poses to airline travel.

The education campaign comes in response to airlines canceling flights to Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.


WHO expressed its disappointment with some countries and airlines deciding to cancel flights, writing Thursday that it's "Hard to save lives if we and other health workers cannot get in."


So how is Ebola spread?

WHO emphasized that, "Unlike infections like influenza and tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne," and that "A person infected with Ebola is only contagious when he or she is symptomatic."

"Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient's infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles."

The risk of becoming infected by an Ebola-infected person during a flight is minimal because, WHO explained, "The chance of having someone who is sick with Ebola getting on a plane is small... Usually when someone is sick with Ebola, they are so unwell that they can't travel."

On Thursday, Korean Air Lines announced it is suspending flights to and from Nairobi, Kenya. Ebola has not yet spread to Kenya, but on Wednesday WHO listed Kenya as "Category 2" because of the high-risk of the Ebola outbreak spreading to the East African country from "movement of people between Kenya and countries with cases."

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