Emirates suspends its flights to Guinea capital over Ebola fears

Emirates airline is indefinitely suspending flights to Guinea’s capital, Conakry, because of the Ebola outbreak there.

DUBAI // Emirates airline is indefinitely suspending flights to Guinea’s capital, Conakry, because of the Ebola outbreak there.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers,” an airline spokesman said. “However, the safety of our passengers and crew is of the highest priority and will not be compromised.”

The suspension of flights starts on Saturday, although flights to Dakar, Senegal’s capital, will continue.

Etihad Airways said on Friday it was following the outbreak but had not yet suspended any services.

“The safety and well-being of Etihad Airways’ passengers and staff is of paramount importance,” a spokesman said. “We are in regular contact with global and regional authorities.”

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation, on Friday said there were major challenges in battling Ebola, which has killed 729 people.

“[The outbreak] is taking place in areas with fluid population movements over porous borders, and it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel, contrary to what has been seen in past outbreaks,” she told the presidents of four affected West African countries.

About 1,323 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone since March, with 729 deaths.

Ebola has a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent and is one of the most severe diseases, the WHO says. It is spread by blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

The virus causing the West African outbreak is the most lethal in the Ebola family.

The WHO has announced efforts to intensify the campaign to control the outbreak, launching a US$100 million response plan on Friday.

The virus can be contained even with the absence of a vaccine, Dr Chan said, but several challenges must be overcome in the outbreak response.

The outbreak “is moving faster than our efforts to control it”, she said.

Dr Chan said that cultural practices or beliefs could further the disease’s spread, and that chains of transmission “have moved underground” and are not being reported.

“Ebola outbreaks can be contained. Chains of transmission can be broken. Together, we must do so,” Dr Chan said.

The organisation has set an emergency meeting for August 6 to 7 to determine whether the outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern.

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Published: August 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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