(The Washington Post) FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Tom R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was supposed to fly to West Africa on Monday to gauge the effects of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.
Then his flight was canceled.
Brussels Airlines was forced to halt flights to the affected region after Senegal’s refusal over the weekend to allow the Belgium-based carrier to touch down in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, for crew changes. Senegal was sending a clear signal that it wanted nothing to do with flights going to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, where the outbreak rages on. This move was just the latest by a growing wave of countries and airlines that appear to want to stave off the Ebola threat by stopping travel in and out of places confronting the virus.
Frieden, along with other U.S. officials, scrambled to jump on one of the region’s few remaining options — a Delta flight to the Liberian capital that arrived Sunday, said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, who was part of the mad dash.
The increasing flight cancellations and border closures have alarmed public health officials worldwide. The cancellations have frightened residents in the affected countries who fear they may be trapped within their national borders. They also worry about the economic fallout from their dwindling air access to other countries.