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Ebola flights ban slammed by MPs

THE Government's decision to cancel direct flights to the UK from West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak has been sharply criticised by MPs, who said it had "no basis in science".

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the suspension of direct flights in the face of what it said was "scaremongering" by sections of the media increased the cost of dealing with the disease and may have led to further loss of life.

Direct flights from the region - including a British Airways route from Liberia to Heathrow with a stopover in Sierra Leone - were halted in August amid concerns passengers could bring the disease into the UK.

In October, Gambia Bird airlines was given permission to resume flights from Sierra Leone to Gatwick, only for them to be swiftly suspended again.

Aid agencies have complained the restrictions hamper efforts to get assistance to the stricken region and the committee said they should now be lifted.

"The revocation of licences to carriers to fly direct to the region was a political decision with no basis in science and was inconsistent with World Health Organisation (WHO) advice," the committee said.

"In our judgment, it will inevitably have led to an increase in the costs of dealing with the outbreak and, potentially, to further loss of life."

The committee echoed the findings of previous reports on the crisis that the response of the WHO and the international community to the outbreak was "totally inadequate".

While it praised the "bravery" of British volunteers and members of the armed forces who were now working in Sierra Leone, it said the Department for International Development had been "far too slow" to react the developing situation.

"The department could and should have listened to and responded to the views of Medecins Sans Frontieres and others on the ground who were warning of the seriousness of the outbreak rather than relying on it simply to follow the trajectory of previous outbreaks, which there was every indication it would not do," it said.

-By Gavin Cordon, Press Association Whitehall Editor
 Wednesday 11 February 2015

source:http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/ebola-flights-ban-slammed-by-mps.118193341?utm_source=www.heraldscotland.com&utm_medium=RSS%20Feed&utm_campaign=Scottish%20News

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