Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Aviation Update

Slowly but surely the Ebola traveler has been named and his itinerary published: Monrovia-Brussels to a United flight leaving September 19th; connection at Washington Dulles on the 20th with a flight to DFW.

Meanwhile this guy.....

...has been telling everyone not to worry because Ebola can only be transmitted when a virus carrier displays symptoms.  There was 'zero risk of transmission' on the flights.  I am not questioning that. 

But I do question a few things.  The Dallas victim was able to board a flight after coming in direct close contact with a woman who had the disease and died.  He knew he was a possible carrier and might come down with the disease at any minute.  Matter of fact that's probably why he got on the flight to "visit relatives" in Dallas--an attempt to save himself.  We have better hospitals.  Was it only dumb luck he stayed symptom free all the way to Texas?

In other words, what happens when someone boards one of these long international flights, shows no signs of fever upon boarding, but comes down with a fever in-flight?  Can they or will they be isolated onboard?  Will countries or airports refuse landing rights if the flight crew tries to divert or declare a medical emergency to offload the sick passenger?  Could we have some kind of JV version of  "Pandora's Clock"?

Or let's say the person begins to come down with the early symptoms during the last leg of the flight but manages to hide it until deplaning, then gets off and walks through the airport, opening doors, touching walls and bathroom fixtures, sneezes, etc, on the way to customs?  Or gets through customs undetected and continues out into the world outside?  Seems unlikely the CDC could track down everybody he/she came in contact with. 

Now, everyone knows we are the beacon of freedom around the world and nobody wants to restrict the freedom to travel.  But we have a border.  Non-citizens traveling to the United States from the Ebola hot zone countries need visas to enter the US.  Should anything be done in this area?  Evidently there is a test to determine if someone has the virus before they are symptomatic (if the story is correct) so why not insist all passengers to the US get the test as a requirement for a travel visa, at least for awhile until the outbreak is quelled?  Some countries have already required entry visas to address this, but today the State Department was asked and the spokeslady, with a smirk, said they are not considering any such restrictions.  Let's hope they don't kill anyone with PC.

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