Pageant News 19 November 2014
You will all know that the deadly disease, Ebola, has reached
epidemic proportions in parts of West Africa. This news item is to
reassure you that The Gambia is free of Ebola, and remains a safe
destination to travel to.
The countries mainly
affected by Ebola are Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, though
there have been isolated cases in surrounding countries. The Gambia
is surrounded by Senegal, and you might have read that there was a
case in Senegal. This was a single case in a traveller from Guinea
confirmed on 28 August 2014. There were no further cases, and
Senegal was declared 'Ebola Free' on 17 October. There was a rumour
that there had been a case of Ebola in The Gambia, but this turned
out to be TB.
The latest situation in
West Africa is summarised in this
CDC weekly report. At present the spread of the disease
is confined to the three countries (see the map in Fig 3 of the
above report.) There is no evidence that it is spreading towards
Senegal or The Gambia. Also consider the distances involved. Banjul
is 650km (400 miles) from Freetown in Sierra Leone - the same
distance as London to Glasgow, but with far inferior communications.
The UK Government's
advice for travellers to The Gambia currently does not
advise against travel, but please keep checking the above web page
for up-to-date information. Also when you are in The Gambia, there
is a free Ebola hotline where you can check for the
latest information by
The Gambian economy is
critically dependent on the tourism industry, and there are reports
that tourism might be down by as much as 60%. [see
Guardian article] Failure of the tourist industry could
result in the loss of incomes for a significant number of people in
an already poor country, causing great hardship and many not being
able to afford to feed their families.
So if you had planned to
have a holiday in The Gambia and now think you might cancel, please
check the Ebola status of The Gambia and think of all the people out
there who are hoping to welcome you.