U.S. State Dept. Issues Sierra Leone Travel Warning

Map of Sierra LeoneWashington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–August 14, 2014. The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.  After review of health conditions and limited availability of medical evacuation options, the U.S. Department of State ordered the departure of family members residing with Embassy staff in Freetown to begin August 14, 2014.  U.S. government employees in Freetown will remain on active duty at the Embassy.

As of August 11, there have been 759 confirmed cases and 293 confirmed deaths due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone. The outbreak of EVD has overwhelmed Sierra Leone’s health system due to the lack of sufficient staff and/or resources to address the continuing transmission of EVD.  Options for obtaining routine medical care are severely limited.  In addition, most medical evacuation companies have suspended service to Ebola-affected countries and several airlines have suspended service to Freetown.  This severely limits options for medical evacuation in the case of EVD and non-EVD medical cases.  For more information concerning EVD, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  Please direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Sierra Leone to [email protected]. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747.  Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.

If you arrive in Sierra Leone and subsequently need routine or emergency medical care, you should expect limited, if any, options.  Travelers are advised that air carriers chartered by medical evacuation insurance companies are unable to reliably provide timely services in Sierra Leone or the region, and local ambulance services for transport to the airport are essentially unavailable.  Policyholders should confirm the availability of medical evacuation services prior to travel.  While commercial flights are still available from Sierra Leone, some airlines have discontinued service and flights may become more difficult to obtain.  If you plan to visit Sierra Leone despite this warning, you should purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation, and confirm under what circumstances coverage applies to Sierra Leone.

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who decide to travel to or remain in Sierra Leone despite this Travel Warning to provide their current contact information through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Sierra Leone.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler’s Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Check U.S. Embassy Freetown’s website for up-to-date messages to U.S. citizens.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips. 

U.S. Embassy Freetown is located at Southridge, Hill Station, in Freetown.  Telephone: +232 (0)76-515-000.  Emergency after- hours telephone: +232 (0)76-912-708.

Source: state.gov