Keep calm and carry on flying

Keep calm and carry on flying

Isabel Evans is not letting Ebola stop her from taking the plane

A deadly virus is on the move, which doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be.

Some of the largest news stories this year, the missing MH370 plane, the MH17 crash and, of course, the current Ebola outbreak, have all had serious effects on the travel industry. Both Malaysia and parts of Africa depend greatly on tourism for their economy. The student population of UCL is hardly a nervous group but the fear of the spread of Ebola has altered many people’s views on travel.

According to the Associated Press, a quarter of Americans believe that in the near future they or a family member will get Ebola, so it is important for us to remember that it is still safe to board a plane.

The crash and missing plane resulted in a government takeover of Malaysia Airlines, possibly due to a 60% bookings decrease from Chinese tourists and the resignation of many staff. And already, the Ebola outbreak is having a profound effect on the tourism industry in Africa. Even countries in which no Ebola cases have been reported, such as South Africa and Kenya, have seen drops in the number of people booking holidays there and a rise in the number of people delaying their trips.

It is only natural to feel anxious about flying during the Ebola crisis but this nervousness only shows a lack of knowledge about how the virus is transmitted. Ebola can only be passed on through bodily fluids and cannot survive on inanimate objects. There should be no reason to worry about contracting Ebola unless you are travelling to the areas of the highest infection, like Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea. In fact, according to the Liberia, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, for each person who suffers from Ebola, only 1.7 other people will be infected which means that compared to some diseases, such as malaria or measles, Ebola has a very low contraction rate.

However, this definitely doesn’t mean that we should take Ebola lightly. The source of most of the fear surrounding Ebola is its high death toll. Around 70% of people who have caught the current strain of Ebola have died. Yet, the current outbreak has been relatively well contained; the only real source of worry will be if Ebola spreads to a large country without the medical resources to deal with the outbreak. Unless this happens, there should be no reason to worry about travelling during the outbreak.

In fact, should air travel be banned in the face of Ebola, combatting the disease would only get harder, as medics, equipment and aid would not be able to be transported quickly between countries.

For more on this, see this TED talk focusing on the bird flu outbreak several years ago.

It is vital that countries work together to stop the spread of Ebola, but for the moment at least, there is no reason for travellers to panic. So fear not, fellow holiday-goers and feel reassured to book your next holiday!

Featured image credit: xlibber

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