As 3 Caribbean and two South American countries this week banned travel from Ebola-stricken West Africa nations, and as members of Congress accused overall health officials of not undertaking enough to include it, the travel market weighed in on calls for travel restrictions and what the market can do to address travelers’ concerns.
“We’re taking our cues from safety and well being professionals who have been opposed to travel bans, which are ineffective at greatest and even counterproductive at worst,” mentioned Jonathan Grella, senior vice president of public affairs at U.S. Travel Association, which opposes a travel ban.
As for how it’s advising its members to respond, Grella, stated “The very best people can do is gather as much intelligence details as there is, share it and urge responsible action. That could appear basic, but clearly is challenging at a time of a lot of upset and at a time with an election in the background.”
Considering that Sept. 30, there have been 3 confirmed instances of Ebola in the U.S. such as one particular death, according to the Centers for Illness Manage and Prevention (CDC).
But concerns mounted soon after it became recognized that one of the two healthcare workers who later tested good for Ebola had taken two domestic flights. The CDC on Thursday was reaching out to passengers on either of the two flights: Frontier Airlines flight 1142 from Dallas/Fort Worth to Cleveland on Oct. 10 Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Oct. 13. The second healthcare worker who tested optimistic for Ebola had traveled on these flights prior to reporting symptoms.
On Thursday, a congressional hearing was held to examine U.S. overall health officials’ response to Ebola, with a quantity of Republicans calling for a travel ban on travelers from the Ebola-stricken West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as properly as other heightened responses to the outbreak.
President Obama responded that imposing a travel ban from West Africa would be counterproductive. As an alternative, the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs & Border Protection this week and final week implemented further screening measures at five U.S. airports via which 94% of travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone pass when entering the U.S.: New York’s JFK International Airport, Washington-Dulles, Newark Liberty, Chicago-O’Hare, and Atlanta. There are no direct flights from West Africa at this time.
The screenings consist of examining passengers arriving from those nations for indicators of illness, asking them a series of overall health- and exposure-associated questions and supplying wellness and self-monitoring data for identifying Ebola symptoms.
Meanwhile, some nations have decided to opt for a travel ban. Jamaica this week mentioned it would not accept travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Guyana, St. Lucia, Haiti and Colombia have also banned arrivals from the three African countries.
“I think a lot of what is behind men and women calling for a travel ban is reasonable,” mentioned Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, a provider of integrated healthcare, security, intelligence, travel danger management and crisis response services. “The game we’re playing here is a game against time. We’re attempting to lessen the number of men and women who are possibly impacted, who could intersect with other men and women.”
But Richards added, “If you appear at the numbers of men and women who have been impacted, it’s infinitesimally tiny compared to other illnesses. The greatest killer of travelers are motor car accidents, definitely in the creating world. The likelihood that an individual gets on an airplane here in the U.S. from Boston to Cleveland and contracts Ebola, it is not zero, but it’s as close to zero as it gets.”
Like other people in the travel industry, Richards mentioned it was essential for travelers, travel providers and firms whose employees travel for perform to arm themselves with information as effectively as with an action strategy in the occasion that somebody does get sick.
Complicating matters, he pointed out, is that the Ebola situations are hitting just as the country is entering flu season, which indicates individuals who could be exhibiting flu-like symptoms may possibly think they have Ebola symptoms.
Steve Loucks, chief communications officer for Travel Leaders Group, mentioned that offered the level of public anxiousness and complicating circumstance, it is critical that travel agents “be armed with facts on subjects potentially impacting travel, like Ebola, so they could in turn speak authoritatively with their clients.”
Consequently, Travel Leaders has been rolling out updated “talking points” to its member agents that they can use when discussing Ebola-associated travel issues with customers. The points are based on details gathered from the CDC, the Planet Health Organization, the State Division, the Federal Aviation Administration and Customs & Border Protection.
For instance, in its latest talking points, Travel Leaders emphasized that Ebola is not an airborne virus and that transmission occurs via speak to with the bodily fluids of somebody already infected.
In a statement to Travel Weekly about whether a ban must be implemented and how concerned travelers need to be, Airports Council International (ACI) said, “The scientific reality is that to contract Ebola a single has to have direct get in touch with with the body fluids, blood, secretions or articles contaminated with these fluids from an infected individual — all unlikely exposures for the average traveler. As a outcome, even when traveling to one particular of the impacted countries, the threat of contracting the disease is very, quite low.”
ACI does not support a travel ban or travel restrictions and is confident the aviation industry can successfully responded to this public well being emergency just as it has to other outbreaks such as Swine Flu, Avian Influenza and SARS, in the previous, the organization stated.