Our sincerest thoughts and sympathies go out to the families in the countries in West Africa, where the Ebola virus has claimed just over 4000 lives in the past six months. We also send our well wishes and thanks to all of the health workers who tirelessly and bravely put in endless efforts to contain the Ebola Virus.
To you, our travellers, we do understand that the media has been amplifying a bleak picture concerning the current Ebola virus and this has raised your concerns about travelling to Southern and East Africa. Sadly, the media have referenced Ebola as being an “African” problem and have not given actual statistics about the size of the continent, the distance between the affected and non-affected countries, and the actual risk of contracting Ebola if visiting Southern or East Africa.
To date, the 2014 Ebola virus has not affected the regions of Southern or East Africa (including the countries of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda) and strict measures have been put in place to ensure that the virus is contained in the countries that are currently affected.
Nomad is a locally owned and operated company and we are all based in South Africa which is approximately 5 600 kilometers away from the Ebola Outbreak Area (Cape Town is in fact further away from and has less flight connections with West Africa, than Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom). We are monitoring the situation closely and have found that the impact we are feeling is not about the virus itself, it is more about the perceptions of the virus and the misunderstood risk in visiting other countries on the African continent.
If you are planning on not travelling to Southern or East Africa due to Ebola in West Africa, I implore you to do some more research on the situation before making your final decision.
The Washington Post has an excellent article on the geography of the situation, Safari bookings has a detailed look at the impact of the fear of Ebola on the safari industry in Southern and East Africa, Goway Travel talks about the possibility of being infected by Ebola when travelling in Southern and East Africa, International SOS and The World Health Organisation also have a wealth of information on the current situation.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org . We remain at your complete disposal and hope to see you here with us in Southern and East Africa.
Update 16 October 2014: An excellent article by David Cogswell of Travelpulse regarding the facts about Ebola and the misunderstood geography of Africa
“Words for the Wise
Abercrombie & Kent is countering panic with rationality, reassuring clients with a list of relevant facts:
1. The continent of Africa is larger than the U.S., China, India, Europe and Japan combined.
2. Africa is not one country but 54 independent nations with strict customs controls. Most have restricted entry to travelers that visited affected West African countries.
3. The main safari destinations are in East and Southern Africa, which is farther away from the affected countries in West Africa than parts of Europe and South America.
4. There have been no cases of Ebola in Southern or East Africa, which includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
In regard to Kenya, A&K’s home and the center of its safari operations, the company reminds its clients that:
1. Kenya remains Ebola free and no single case of Ebola has been recorded in the country.
2. The affected countries are in the extreme western part of the African continent, thousands of kilometers from Kenya. Geographically, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are closer to Madrid, Paris and London than they are to Kenya.
3. Kenya Airways flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone remain suspended as a measure to prevent the spread of Ebola. In addition, restrictions on entry into Kenya for those who have passed through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are still in place.
4. Visitors to Kenya are not at any risk of contracting Ebola and there is no reason for visitors to cancel or postpone their travel plans.
Here are some additional factoids for consideration.
Dakar, Senegal, in the affected area, is closer to New York (3,818 miles) than it is to Nairobi (3,865 miles), Johannesburg (4,159 miles) or Cape Town (4,100 miles).
Within Africa, Ebola has been confined to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. Outside of Africa, cases have now been reported in the U.S., Spain and Germany.
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
Ebola is not transmitted through casual contact, air, water, food grown or legally purchased in the U.S.
Ebola is spread through the body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola. Body fluids include blood, vomit, urine, feces, sweat, semen, spit, etc. It can also be spread through objects contaminated with the virus, such as needles and other medical equipment, by the body fluids of infected animals or infected meat.
Ebola can only be spread after symptoms appear, which happens from two to 21 days after exposure. You can only be infected by someone who visibly exhibits the symptoms. The symptoms are fever, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising or muscle pain.
According to Dan Austin, president of Austin Adventures, “In my humble opinion there are better odds for winning the lottery than getting Ebola. Reading up on it, the average traveler needs to relax.”
“These fears will abate once we get beyond the current ‘breaking news’ syndrome,” said Bob Drumm, president of Alexander + Roberts.”