AIRLINES in Togo and Nigeria are suspending flights to West African countries where Ebola has been detected to prevent the spread of the virus, but South African Airways (SAA) says "it has not become necessary to put any extraordinary measures in place".
About 670 people have died of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since February. About 1,200 cases have been reported to date, including one in Nigeria.
SAA flies to Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire.
It said on Wednesday it had not had any notification from a "competent" authority in South Africa to initiate travel- related health warnings to deal with the deadly virus. It was guided by notifications from the Department of Health’s port health section, with which it was in constant contact.
"We are in regular contact with the port health (section). Based on this, there have been no changes in our operations to West Africa whatsoever," said SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali.
However, the health department told TV station eNCA last night that all the country's ports of entry were on high alert.
SAA’s competitors in West Africa have suspended flights to the countries most affected . Nigerian airline Arik Air has temporarily suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Asky, a Togo-based airline, has suspended flights . It said it had also stopped transporting food from Conakry, Guinea. The suspension comes after an Asky passenger died from the virus after flying from Liberia to Nigeria.
Hong Kong said it was quarantining people arriving from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia who showed Ebola-like symptoms.
The European Union is implementing medical alert systems. It has allocated an additional €2m, over an initial €1.9m, for measures to deal with the outbreak. The additional funds will go towards containing the virus and providing healthcare to affected communities.
Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organisation said it was committed to establishing a task force to address security and civil aviation problems arising from flight MH17, the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine this month.
The global aviation industry has gone through various safety problems this year after a "good record of safety up until 2013", said Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa.
Source: Andiswa Maqutu for Business Day Live