The Gambia has banned flights from Ebola-hit west African countries from landing in its territory, airport officials have told AFP.
Staff at Banjul International Airport said on condition of anonymity that President Yahya Jammeh had ordered airlines to cancel all flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
“This decision by the Gambian authorities has left prospective passengers travelling to Banjul … stranded in these west African countries,” said an airport official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Brussels Airlines, which transits in Freetown from Europe, is only allowed to drop passengers there, but not pick anyone up.”
The outbreak in Guinea is one of the most deadly in history, with 168 cases “clinically compatible” with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, since the start of the year, according to the World Health Organization.
The outbreak began in the impoverished country’s southern forests, but has spread to Conakry, a sprawling port city on the Atlantic coast and home to two million people
Neighbouring Liberia has reported 20 probable or suspected cases, six lab-confirmed cases and 13 deaths.
Mali also had suspected cases but was given the all-clear on Tuesday after samples taken from patients tested negative for Ebola in laboratories, the health ministry told reporters in Bamako.
There was no official confirmation of the ban from the Gambia but AFP has seen a letter dated April 10 from the transport ministry notifying airlines of the measures while Sierra Leone’s government said it was in talks with Banjul over the issue.