SAS, airports introduce Ebola measures

The Scandinavian carrier has established a plan in case any of their passengers becoming infected with the virus

Photo: BriYYZ / Wikimedia Commons SAS is committed to preventing Ebola from taking off.

Photo: BriYYZ / Wikimedia Commons
SAS is committed to preventing Ebola from taking off.

Michael Sandelson & Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

SAS has no routes to African countries, but some flight connections may have incoming travelers from that continent.

Trine Kromann-Mikkelsen, press spokesperson for SAS in Denmark told website checkin.dk that “we’ve established a task force to have a plan that can be activated immediately if something happens on SAS flights.

“We take it very seriously, because we want to ensure that our passengers have a safe experience when they travel with us.”

Kromann-Mikkelsen has said that effective procedures will be put in place in the event of a passenger exhibiting the symptoms. The airline’s taskforce will advise employees on what to do in the situation, both on board the plane and at the airport.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published Ebola guidance for airlines. It states that a Department of Transportation rule permits airlines to deny boarding to travelers with serious contagious diseases with a risk of spreading during flight. This includes possible Ebola symptoms.

Cabin crew are expected to follow the infection control precautions for sick travelers on board. The CDC will conduct an investigation to assess the risks, and inform both passengers and crew of possible exposure if a passenger is confirmed to have had Ebola.

The risk of spreading Ebola to passengers or crew on an aircraft is very low as the virus can only be spread by direct contact with infected body fluids, and does not spread through the air, unlike the flu.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced in August that International airports in affected countries should perform screenings on all passengers.

London’s Heathrow airport has begun to test passengers for signs of the disease. According to The New York Times, a second nurse from America has become infected. She had traveled on a commercial flight as part of a medical team to aid Ebola victims.

Norwegian health authorities are monitoring the situation and have issued travel advice for passengers, recommending them to avoid “all travels to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.” They are following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) assessment and advice, even though the risk of infection in Norway is low.

“If a case should arise in Norway with a traveler who has been to an outbreak area, the person will be quickly followed up and there is little risk that the disease will spread further. Norway has a high level of preparedness to deal with such a situation,” says the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s (NIPH) Dr. Siri Hauge at the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has authorized Oslo University Hospital to import unapproved medicines. This includes TKM-Ebola and Avigan, which were developed for flu pandemics.

This authorization comes after a female Norwegian aid worker was infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone and given the last remaining dose of Zmapp. Zmapp has been used on patients who survived in the U.S. and Liberia, but the manufacturers have admitted that it will take months to make more of it.

There is major interest from Norwegian aid workers to travel to Sierra Leone to help with the current outbreak.

“Norway has well-functioning systems to detect and monitor suspected cases of Ebola virus disease. Norway is also part of a global early warning system where Ebola cases are reported,” said Dr Hauge.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Oct. 24, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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