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IMO: no ban on African travel

October 27 - The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has declared that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade due to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

"We would recommend to all our Member States as well as the broader maritime community, shipping companies, ship operators and port and terminal operators that they follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization, which is that the movement of ships, including the handling of cargo and goods, to and from the affected areas, should continue as normal, in order to reduce the isolation and economic hardship of the affected countries," said Andy Winbow, assistant secretary-general and director, Maritime Safety Division, IMO.  

Winbow made his comments following the third meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the World Health Organization (WHO): "Any necessary medical treatment should be available ashore for seafarers and passengers," he added. 

A statement issued by the World Health Organization's IHR Emergency Committee says that its previous recommendations regarding Ebola screening should continue to be implemented.

The IMO has issued an infographic with critical information about the virus, which can be downloaded and used on board ships and in ports and terminals. 

The WHO adds that while a number of states have recently introduced entry-screening measures, it encourages countries implementing such measures to share their experiences and lessons learned. Entry screening may have a limited effect in reducing international spread when added to exit screening, and its advantages and disadvantages should be carefully considered, said the WHO.

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