Arising from the unfortunate Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa, we wish to provide the following detailed update while confirming that, Kenya Airways is still flying to and from several destinations in that region.
Our continued operations in West Africa are primarily based on the fact that we continue to maintain very close contact with health and travel authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and The International Air Transport Association (IATA). These key organizations’ alongside the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) continue to coordinate closely with us, 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 World Health Organization (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.
Further, WHO states that: “The risk of a tourist or businessman/woman becoming infected with Ebola virus during a visit to the affected areas and developing disease after returning is extremely low, even if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported.
Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animal, all unlikely exposures for the average traveler. Tourists are in any event advised to avoid all such contacts.
At Kenya Airways, we continue to maintain several precautionary measures, as follows:
- We have taken proactive measures to educate all Kenya Airways’ staff, and especially those on the ground in Sierra Leone and Liberia, on Ebola, how it is transmitted and how to keep safe.
- Our crew members have also been supplied and trained on the use of Universal Precaution Kits (UPKs) to ensure that they do not come into contact with body fluids while carrying out their duties.
- Crews handling our flights to any West African destination continue to receive up to date briefs before departure and upon arrival back home from the KQ Medical personnel to ensure they (CREW) are clear on the procedures to follow to protect themselves and cross infection of passengers.
- For the Ground Staff in Monrovia, Free Town, Accra, Lagos and Abuja we 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.
- Kenya Airways is represented in the National Aviation Pandemic Preparedness Committee (through steering committee of CAPSCA that is chaired by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority). This enables us access information real time on the country position during such situations.
- We continuously monitor updates from World Health Organisation and the International Air Transport Association on the disease, its spread and for guidelines on recommended actions.
- Additionally, strict surveillance is carried out at JKIA for all flights from West Africa by Port Health Unit that has this mandate.
So far no travel bans have been given. 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.