Health Ministry officials imposed a travel ban Aug. 21 barring entry to all non-South African nationals traveling from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone - three countries affected by an ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus. The statement also indicated all South Africans returning from any of these countries would face strict health screenings upon arrival and further advised against nonessential travel to the affected states.
Background and Analysis
While there are no direct flights between South Africa and the three Ebola affected countries, non-South African travelers even passing through Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone could face increased scrutiny or be denied entry outright by airport officials. Kenyan officials issued a near-identical travel ban that went into effect Aug. 20, although that country's national airline Kenya Airways (KQ) serviced dozens of flights to the West Africa sub-region per week, including to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Only a handful of air carriers still service the directly-affected countries after multiple regional and international air carriers have suspended service since late July, including Arik Air (W3), Gambia Bird (3G), ASKY Airlines (KP), British Airways (BA), Kenya Airways (KQ), and Emirates (EK).
Confirm travel arrangements. Contact airfare providers for policies regarding refunds or rebooking travel. Consider deferring all nonessential travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea due to difficulties accessing timely medical care and medically evacuating patients from these countries, a reduction in government services, and the potential for critical air travel disruptions.