Given that the first confirmed case of Ebola brought unknowingly into the United States came from a man who arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 from a flight that began in Liberia, some people are now asking a not unreasonable question: Why is Washington still allowing travelers from Ebola-struck countries to enter the United States?
My colleague Abby Philips has tackled that question in-depth, but the core answer is simple – Travel restrictions are seen as ineffective at controlling outbreaks like this, and they are likely to cause serious problems with the treatment and containment of Ebola. In fact, health experts are often damning about the use of travel restrictions in these situations. "The first thing people do is say, 'Well rather than prepare let's ban travel,'" WHO's Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward said at one recent briefing. "That's when you're going to get killed, because this virus will exploit it."
Despite criticisms like this, a number of countries have put restrictions on their borders or tightened travel controls recently. While the exact details of the restrictions are hard to confirm, health advisory group International SOS keeps a list that details reported travel restrictions. You can see how the Ebola restrictions stand on the map below:
Please note that the level of restrictions placed here are quite broad: Some countries are allowing entry for nationals from Ebola-linked countries with prior approval, for example, while others have banned all flights from certain countries. Full details can be seen on the International SOS Web site.
International SOS also notes that some commercial airlines have stopped flying to certain countries, including British Airways (which has suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia) and Korea Air (which has suspended flights to Kenya).