NAIROBI (AA) – Kenya Airways said on Saturday that it would suspend commercial flights to Ebola-hit countries Liberia and Sierra Leone from midnight on August 19.
The decision comes hard on the heels of a risk assessment released by the Kenyan Health Ministry earlier in the day.
“We are dependent on expert advice for our continued operations from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization,” Titus Naikuni, the chief executive officer of Kenya Airways, said.
“Following the Ministry of Health’s statement today, Kenya Airways wishes to confirm that it will comply with the advice to suspend its commercial flight operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone temporarily,” Naikuni added in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the Health Ministry banned the entry into Kenya by persons coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
“Kenyans are also banned from travelling to these countries,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Kenyans residing in the Ebola-hit countries are, however, not banned from entering the country, but will have to undergo medical examination,” it added.
Kenya Airways, meanwhile, said only 19 passengers would be affected by the flight suspension on August 19.
“To our esteemed clients who are booked on the suspended flights, we wish to express our sincere regrets for disrupting your travel plans,” Kenya Airways said.
It said it would refund passengers who booked their tickets before that date.
The airways added that flights scheduled to other West African destinations: Nigeria and Ghana, would continue normally.
“However, in the interest of public safety for both our esteemed guests and staff, we reserve the right to cancel our flights to any other destination should the situation warrant it,” Naikuni said.
At least 2000 people have been killed by the deadly Ebola virus so far.
The disease, which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, can be transmitted to humans from wild animals and then spreads through contact with the body fluids of infected people.
Ebola has no confirmed cure or vaccine yet. However, an untested serum has been used.
Last week, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee on Ebola declared the disease an international public health emergency, the third time such an alarm has been raised by the committee ever.
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