Cape Town - South African Airways (SAA) will continue to offer a daily service between Johannesburg and Sao Paulo in Brazil after the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded there was no justification to impose a travel ban to Latin America and the Caribbean due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, the airline said in a statement on Sunday, 7 February.
The airline did advise pregnant women not to travel, saying ''The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) agrees with the South African National Department of Health that pregnant women should delay their travel to areas with current outbreaks of the Zika virus".
Last week, Swiss Air allowed female staff a choice of not flying to Brazil due to the virus outbreak.
SEE: Swiss Air allows female staff choice of not flying to Brazil
Although the risk of mosquito-borne transmission on aircraft is extremely low, SAA urged travellers to remain vigilant when travelling to South America.
It is strongly recommended that travellers take the necessary precaution and consult with their medical or healthcare practitioners for advice before travelling.
Travellers to and from Zika affected areas are advised as follows:
• Travellers to Zika high-risk areas are to avoid known mosquito high concentrate areas and wear clothing that covers most parts of their bodies to prevent mosquito bites.
• Tell your healthcare provider where you travelled. See your healthcare practitioner if you are pregnant and develop fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes within two weeks after travelling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported.
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At its meeting held this week the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the Zika Virus concluded that the outbreak of the Zika virus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern but saw no health justification to restrict travel and trade in areas affected by the virus.
The NICD says, "We don’t have Zika in this country. It’s never been shown to be present in Africa below Uganda. We may see some return travellers who have been to Brazil having mild illness – but they do not pose a risk to others here”.
SAA said they already have communicable disease management procedures in place to protect passengers, crew and ground staff. "The staff is adequately trained to manage incidents of this nature, should a need arise," SAA said.
SAA also assured customers that the airline has regulated disinfection procedures in place for all flights departing or arriving from South America. Extra disinfectant spray has been loaded to reinforce measures already in place.
The airline remains committed to ensuring the enforcement of National and International health protocols associated with air transport in the interests of its passengers, and crew.
Concerned travellers can follow the links below, or email the National Institute for Communicable Diseases for additional information:
National Institute for Communicable Diseases
World Health Organization
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