The national carrier Kenya Airways has temporarily suspended its commercial flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The two West African countries have been hit by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) which has claimed the lives of 1,145 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, as of August 13, 2014.
Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni said in a statement released Saturday that the operational decision will be effective at midnight on Tuesday August 19, 2014.
He added that the decision was based on the situation risk assessment by Kenya’s Ministry of Health.
Mr Naikuni further said that those who had been booked on the suspended flights would get a full refund of all tickets earlier booked and paid for prior to the suspension.
NIGERIA, GHANA NOT SUSPENDED
He added that flights to Nigeria and Ghana had not been suspended.
“I wish to confirm that Kenya Airways will continue operating all its scheduled flights to Nigeria and Ghana.
“However, in the interest of public safety for both our esteemed guests and staff, we reserve the right to cancel our flights to any other destination should the situation warrant,” said Mr Naikuni.
By August 13, 2014, there were 786 cases of EVD in Liberia with 413 deaths while Sierra Leone had 810 cases with 348 deaths.
Nigeria, on the other hand, had 12 reported cases and four deaths.
This is according to statistics released by the World Health Organization’s Global Alert and Response (GAR) programme.
At the same time, Guinea had 519 cases with 380 deaths.
WHO has said that it will take another six months to contain the Ebola outbreak.
FIRST EBOLA CASES
The first Ebola cases were reported in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The latter was in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease got its name.
EVD gets into the human population through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
Health workers have often been infected with Ebola while treating patients suspected or confirmed to be having EVD.
This normally results from close contact with patients in situations where proper measures to control infection are not strictly enforced.
In Africa, Ebola has been documented to be transmitted through contact with infected animals such as monkeys and porcupines found ill or dead.
It then spreads through human-to-human transmission.
Infection mainly results from direct contact with the blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids of infected people. This happens through mucous membranes or broken skin.
It can also result from indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
Before declaring one to be suffering from Ebola, other disease that have symptoms similar to it should first be tested and ruled out.
These include malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, plague, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.
NO VACCINE OR CURE
According to WHO, there has not been any safe cure or vaccine for Ebola so far.
The organisation says rumours on social media claiming that some practices or products could prevent or cure EVD were misleading.
It says the use of such products and practices can be dangerous and should be avoided.
In Nigeria, two people were recently reported to have died after drinking salt water which had been rumoured to be protective.