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Interim Guidance about Ebola Virus Infection

Updated Statement: 15 October 2014

Fiji Airways acts on the advice of international organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation and IATA in situations like these which may affect air travel. Additionally the airline receives real-time guidance from its many partner agencies on inflight safety and health.

Currently the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel and transmission to crew during transit is low. We are in constant contact with the health authorities and our partners for new information which may affect our flights or our crew. Universal precaution kits and additional personal protective equipment are loaded on each flight as a precaution.

It should be noted that there is an active Exit screening in countries with Ebola outbreaks. At most airports, people travelling from the worst-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – face a questionnaire about their recent travel history, who they have been in contact with and their onward travel arrangements.

Overview of Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola virus disease (also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often-fatal disease caused by infection with a species of Ebola virus. Although the disease is rare, it can spread from person to person, especially among health care staff and other people who have close contact* with an infected person. Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids (such as saliva or urine) of an infected person or animal or through contact with objects that have been contaminated with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

The likelihood of contracting Ebola is extremely low unless a person has direct contact with the body fluids of a person or animal that is infected and showing symptoms. A fever in a person who has traveled to or lived in an area where Ebola is present is likely to be caused by a more common infectious disease, but the person would need to be evaluated by a health care provider to be sure.

The incubation period, from exposure to when signs or symptoms appear, for Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days (most commonly 8-10 days). Early symptoms include sudden fever, chills, and muscle aches. Around the fifth day, a skin rash can occur. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea may follow. Symptoms become increasingly severe and may include jaundice (yellow skin), severe weight loss, mental confusion, bleeding inside and outside the body, shock, and multi-organ failure.

The prevention of Ebola virus infection includes measures to avoid contact with blood and body fluids of infected individuals and with objects contaminated with these fluids (e.g., syringes).

Management of ill people on aircraft if Ebola virus is suspected

Crew members on a flight with a passenger or other crew member who is ill with a fever, jaundice, or bleeding and who is traveling from or has recently been in a risk area should follow these precautions:

  • Keep the sick person separated from others as much as possible.
  • Provide the sick person with a surgical mask (if the sick person can tolerate wearing one) to reduce the number of droplets expelled into the air by talking, sneezing, or coughing.  
  • Give tissues to a sick person who cannot tolerate a mask. Provide a plastic bag for disposing of used tissues.
  • Wear impermeable disposable gloves for direct contact with blood or other body fluids.

Reporting Ill Travelers

The captain of an aircraft is required by law to report before arrival any deaths onboard or ill travelers who meet specified criteria. This is consistent with mandatory reporting requirements.

What to do if you think you have been exposed

Any person who thinks he or she has been exposed to Ebola virus either through travel, assisting an ill traveler, handling a contaminated object, or cleaning a contaminated aircraft should take the following precautions:

  • Notify your employer immediately.
  • Monitor your health for 21 days. Watch for fever (temperature of 101°F/38.3°C or higher), chills, muscle aches, severe diarrhea, vomiting, rash, and other symptoms consistent with Ebola.

When to see a health care provider

  • If you develop sudden fever, chills, muscle aches, severe diarrhea, vomiting, rash, or other symptoms consistent with Ebola, you should seek immediate medical attention.
  • Before visiting a health care provider, alert the clinic or emergency room in advance about your possible exposure to Ebola virus so that arrangements can be made to prevent spreading it to others.
  • When traveling to a health care provider, limit contact with other people. Avoid all other travel.
  • If you are located abroad, contact your employer for help with locating a health care provider.

* Close contact is defined as having cared for or lived with a person with Ebola or having a high likelihood of direct contact with blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient. Close contact does not include walking by a person or briefly sitting across a room from a person.

Updated Statement: 15 October 2014

Fiji Airways acts on the advice of international organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation and IATA in situations like these which may affect air travel. Additionally the airline receives real-time guidance from its many partner agencies on inflight safety and health.

Currently the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel and transmission to crew during transit is low. We are in constant contact with the health authorities and our partners for new information which may affect our flights or our crew. Universal precaution kits and additional personal protective equipment are loaded on each flight as a precaution.

It should be noted that there is an active Exit screening in countries with Ebola outbreaks. At most airports, people travelling from the worst-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – face a questionnaire about their recent travel history, who they have been in contact with and their onward travel arrangements.

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