Thursday, October 02, 2014

There is no point to an Ebola flight ban right now

Various bloggers on the right are upset that the Obama administration stated that it is not going to ban flights from countries with Ebola outbreaks. But there are very few direct flights between West Africa and the U.S. Just now I used this site to search for a direct flight from any airport in the U.S. on any day of the year to the main international airport in Guinea (CKY), Sierra Leone (FNA), and Liberia (MWL or ROB). None had a direct flight to any airport in the United States. Thomas Duncan, the only person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., flew through Brussels, Belgium when he traveled from Liberia to Dallas.

Take it from a guy who has traveled to several countries in Africa. Only a small handful of them have direct air connections with the U.S. You almost always have to change planes in Europe somewhere. The ones that do have direct flights tend to be the better off African countries, the types of countries that also have better public health infrastructure to deal with an outbreak. The African countries I can think of have direct flights to the U.S. are: Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa.  Of those, Senegal and Nigeria have each had cases in the current Ebola crisis. But both of those countries managed to isolate and stop the disease within their borders. Whether the U.S. should block flights from countries with an out of control Ebola outbreak is a serious policy question. But it just has not come up yet. It might not at all.

(via Memeorandum)