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KQ to keep flights in West Africa despite Ebola outbreak

08 August 2014, 14:49

Nairobi - Kenya Airways said on Friday it will continue flying to and from West Africa destinations, despite the outbreak of Ebola in the region where more than 1,700 cases have been reported.

The airline's CEO Titus Naikuni said so far Ebola has not been declared an epidemic/pandemic and as a result no travel ban or advisory have been given or recommended by global airline or health authorities.

"Withdrawing our flights to these key destinations, given the safeguards already placed by the respective governments and global health authorities would amount to a corporate placement of unnecessary travel advisory," Naikuni said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The statement comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said over 930 deaths had been reported or confirmed as a result of Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

Most of those deaths have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 1,700 cases have been reported, according to the WHO.

WHO said 108 new cases were reported between Saturday and Monday in those countries and Nigeria.

Naikuni said Kenya Airways is closely monitoring updates from the International Air Transport Association, the International Civil Aviation Organization and WHO with respect to potential spread of Ebola through air travel.

"It is also instructive to note that according to information availed to us from IATA and collaborated by local experts, the WHO, current risk assessment for the spread of Ebola by air travel and transport is minimal and hence not recommending any travel restrictions or the closure of borders at points of entry," Naikuni said.

He said Kenyan airline authorities are carrying out strict surveillance at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for all flights from West Africa by Port Health Unit that has this mandate.

He said Ground staff in Monrovia (Liberia), Free Town (Sierra Leone), Accra (Ghana), Lagos and Abuja (Nigeria) are in constant contact and have provided them with protective materials and related support.

"The Ground staff and crew are also on high alert to identify passengers who look unwell on check in or on board and facilitate immediate review by medical personnel for assistance," Naikuni said.

Kenya and the larger East Africa is currently a safe zone, though health officials have not ruled out chances of infections through contact with travellers from West Africa.

Thousands of West Africans transit through Kenya's main airport on their way to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Kenya Airways flies 44 times in ten West African cities and so far no traveller from West African countries has been detected with Ebola virus.

 - Xinhua

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