U.S. State Department: Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—October 24, 2014. The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.  This Travel Alert will expire on April 22, 2015.

As of October 22, the Department of Homeland Security requires that all persons traveling to the United States from the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea enter the U.S. through either New York’s Kennedy, Newark’s Liberty, Washington’s Dulles, Chicago’s O’Hare, or Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airports and undergo EVD screening.

Passengers traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea who are not scheduled to pass through one of these airports must rebook their flights to make entry through one of these designated airports.

Due to an outbreak of EVD in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD. The CDC Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria was removed because Nigeria has been declared Ebola free. The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD. Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions. Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period. Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it. For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive. We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for EVD. Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel. 

Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries. U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options. 

The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans. Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice. Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information. 

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not 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, and read the Country Specific Information for your destination countries. For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within 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 on Facebook.

Source: state.gov