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No Ebola in The Gambia

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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 dialing 1025.

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.


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