While the Obama administration refuses to institute an Ebola travel ban, African nations have been combating and containing Ebola by closing their borders.
The Associated Press noted that “border closings may also be helping halt the spread of Ebola” in a region in which 4,500 people have died of Ebola and over 200 medical professionals have passed away as well. Ebola, according to an NPR report, is referred to as the “nurse killer” in Liberia because it has also killed so many caretakers.
Ebola, as the Associated Press noted, has ravaged “Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, overwhelming their health systems,” and countries like Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal that share a border with one of these affected countries “have closed those borders.”
International SOS, which has been actively monitoring Ebola in Africa for its member organizations, has compiled a list of nations that have instituted “entry restrictions” for land, air, and water travel. In addition, “health screening has also been implemented at ports of entry and departure in various countries throughout West Africa.”
At a House hearing on Thursday in which Centers for Disease Control director Tom Frieden refused to answer whether his agency has discussed travel restrictions with the White House, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) referenced the International SOS list. Frieden said he had not seen it yet but would take Griffith’s word that numerous African nations have been successfully combating Ebola with border restrictions. Frieden, in a statement, admitted that “porous land borders” initially worsened the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian immigrant who died last week after becoming the first person on American soil to be diagnosed with Ebola and infecting at least two nurses who cared for him, entered the United States under questionable circumstances with a visa he should have never received.
These African nations, according to International SOS, have closed their borders to those from nations ravaged by Ebola and instituted various “entry restrictions”:
- Kenya on 10 October announced that it had closed the Suam border crossing (Trans-Nzoia county) with Uganda due to reports of an Ebola-related death in Bukwo district (Uganda). Earlier, the Kenyan authorities on 19 August suspended entry of passengers travelling from and through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, excluding health professionals supporting efforts to contain the outbreak and Kenyan citizens.
- Cape Verde on 9 October announced that it would now deny entry to non-resident foreigners coming from countries with ‘intense Ebola transmission’ – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – or who have been to those countries in the previous 30 days.
- Mauritius on 8 October banned entry to all travellers who have visited Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Congo (DRC) in the last two months, rather than just citizens of those countries, as was the case previously. The authorities have announced that entry restrictions for travellers from Senegal and Nigeria will be lifted on 10 October and 17 October respectively, if no further cases of Ebola infection are reported.
- Seychelles on 8 October suspended entry to travellers who have visited Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Nigeria or Congo (DRC) 28 days prior to their journey, with the exception of Seychellois citizens.
- Côte d’Ivoire has reopened in early October its borders with Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
- Equatorial Guinea is denying entry to travellers whose journeys originated in countries affected by Ebola.
- Cameroon on 17 September reopened its borders to travellers from Senegal. An 18 August ban remains in place on travel from Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states – Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – have stated that travellers coming from Ebola-affected countries (according to the World Health Organisation, WHO) would be monitored for 21 days and that travel to member countries for any gatherings would be discouraged. The SADC provided no details as to how member countries will carry out the associated screening and follow-up and it is likely that countries will have individual processes. There are also reports that some countries require health documentation for entry. Travellers are advised to contact the embassy or health ministry of their destination country to clarify their individual circumstances and prepare their trips accordingly.
- South Sudan has placed a ban on travellers coming from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Congo (DRC), or those who have travelled to those countries in the preceding 21 days. According to the health ministry, entry of travellers from Nigeria depends on their travel history in that country and whether they have visited Ebola-affected areas.
- Namibia’s foreign ministry on 11 September announced that foreigners travelling from countries affected by Ebola would be prohibited from entering the country.
- Gambia on 1 September suspended entry of persons who have visited Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Nigeria in the 21 days prior to travel. Those travelling indirectly from any of the aforementioned countries to Gambia via another country also come under this measure.
- Côte d’Ivoire announced on 23 August that it had closed its land borders with Guinea and Liberia.
- Gabon stated on 22 August that it is restricting the issuance of entry visas to travellers from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria on a case-by-case basis.
- Rwanda, according to the US Department of State on 22 August, has banned entry to travellers who have visited Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone in the 22 days prior to travel.
- Senegal on 21 August closed its land border with Guinea, while the country’s sea and air borders will also be closed to vessels and aircraft from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Chad on 21 August closed its land border with Nigeria at Lake Chad. The country previously reportedly banned the entry of any travellers originating or transiting through Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria or Sierra Leone, with airlines serving the country reportedly rerouting flights.
- South Africa on 21 August restricted entry for all non-citizens travelling from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The government subsequently clarified that this was not a blanket ban and could be waived for ‘absolutely essential travel’.
According to International SOS, these African nations “have implemented Ebola-related travel restrictions”:
- Gambia has banned the entry of flights from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
- Gabon has banned the entry of flights and ships from countries affected by Ebola.
- Senegal has banned flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Cameroon has banned flights to and from Nigeria.Chad has suspended all flights from Nigeria.
- Nigeria has suspended flights to the country operated by Gambian national carrier Gambia Bird.
- Côte d’Ivoire has now lifted the ban on passenger flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
These airlines “have restricted flights to Ebola-affected countries”:
- Air France suspended flights to Sierra Leone from 28 August.
- The Togo-based carrier Asky Airlines has suspended flights to and from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Arik Air (Nigeria), Gambia Bird and Kenya Airways have suspended services to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- British Airways has extended their suspension of flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone until 31 December.
- Emirates Airlines has suspended flights to Guinea.
- Korean Air suspended flights to and from Kenya from 20 August.
- Senegal Airlines has suspended flights to and from Conakry (Guinea) until further notice.