Sierra Leone authorities were cautious in responding to the reported flight restriction imposed by Gambia on all passengers from three West African capitals over fears of the Ebola virus.
The Gambian move which also targets Guinea and Liberia, which together with Sierra Leone constitute the three neighbours at the epicentre of the region’s first ever Ebola epidemic, prohibits all Banjul-bound airlines from carrying passengers from these countries.
Gambian airline authorities were quoted confirming the indefinite ban in response to the Ebola outbreak which has so far claimed over 100 lives in Guinea and Liberia.
To date, Sierra Leone has recorded no confirmed case, even though victims have died of symptoms similar to those associated with the Ebola virus.
Dozens of passengers were reported stranded at the Freetown International Airport in Lungi as the privately owned Gambia Bird flight left behind its passengers in line with the Banjul directive.
“Gambia has the right to protect its territory and its people which is what it has done,” Mr Samoura Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs minister, told the Politico newspaper in Freetown.
But, he added, “the best thing to do is to work with your regional colleague governments to fight it (Ebola outbreak) and not to isolate them”.
Senegal first set the ball rolling when it controversially closed its border with Guinea after medical authorities confirmed the emergence of the virus in the capital, Conakry.
The Sierra Leone government also only recently announced a restriction of movement between its borders with Liberia and Guinea and has informed the neighbouring governments of the banning of the transfer of corpses from either country for burial back home.
( Courtesy Daily Nation, Government of Sierra Leone & Agencies……Source…… Our Freelance Contributor in Freetown & New Africa Business News )