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Africa

France starts Ebola screening for Guinea flights

media Health Minister Marisol Touraine and Dr Philippe Bargain, who heads the medical centre at Paris's Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, explain the new Ebola-screening measures AFP

France has begun screening passengers for signs of Ebola as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris on the daily Air France flight from Guinea's capital Conakry.

Air France is the only company still operating a direct flight to france from an ebola-affected country.

But unions representing flight attendants are not reassured by the screening measures.

Dossier: Ebola outbreak 2014

They've asked the transport minister to close the route until the ebola epidemic is under control.

France on Saturday began screening passengers for signs of Ebola as they arrive at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport on the daily Air France flight from Guinee's capital, Conakry.

Fatoumata, one of the 200 passengers aboard, told RFI that the screening procedure is rapid but very reassuring

“When you get off the plane a doctor, I think, collects the form you filled in on the plane. then nurses are there to take your temperature,” she said. “It's very simple and straightforward, they use the laser-operated thermometer, they read your temperature and you go through.”

Checks are made at Conakry, too.

“You wash your hands, then you fill in the medical information form, then you have your temperature taken,” Fatoumata explained. “Then when you board the plane they take your temperature two more times. So I think with all of that it's unlikely there's much of a risk in Roissy CDG. You simply can't board the flight if you have a temperature.”

Air France is the only company still operating a direct flight to France from an ebola-affected country.

Click to see the infographic

Flight attendant unions are demanding the route be closed until the Ebola epidemic is under control.

“The protection measures on board are simply gloves, basic masks and disinfectant gel, they don't offer staff enough protection,” Christophe Pillet of the SNPNC union told RFI.

On a visit to Conakry last month, President François Hollande told Guinea’s President Alpha Condé that Air France would maintain the air link out of “solidarity” and the government clearly does not want to end it.

“It would be better to beef up this type of filter rather than stopping flights that ensure contact between these countries,” Benoit Vallet of the health ministry said. “The flights also guarantee that people feel they can travel to Guinea to offer medical help and come back.”

But Pillet says it's not up to Air France to transport humanitarian aid

“Whether it's a war zone or an epidemic zone it's not up to commercial personnel to go there,” he says. “Military flights can be used to transport medical staff.”

In the meantime the Paris-Conakry flight transports about 200 people daily.

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been worst hit by the Ebola outbreak.

Air France suspended flights to Freetown in August, leaving Sierra Leone and Liberia reliant on Royal Air Maroc for flight connections.

 

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