Travel in the Age of Ebola

February 5, 2015 Updated: February 5, 2015

Fears of Ebola becoming a global epidemic have shaken just about every country into action. Though the risk of this actually occurring have so far remained incredibly low — the potential is there, but that’s about it. Though this, along with previous outbreaks of SARS and Bird Flu, have driven a new consciousness that in this age of mass global rapid transit, infectious disease could spread fast in the event of a worldwide outbreak.

Over the past few months I’ve crossed borders to Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines — a criss-crossing path with China usually in the middle. As I’ve traveled, I’ve gotten a feel for the additional precautions that countries have established to counter Ebola, and to put it simply, they seem incredibly practical and realistic.

In fact, the biggest obstacles that I’ve faced so far were having to read posters and handouts informing me of Ebola and occasionally having to fill out an extra immigration card affirming that I’m not sick and did not just visit a country inflicted with Ebola. Though I have walked through some infrared sensors manned by additional medical staff on the way into some countries, this has been standard practice in Asia since the outbreak of SARS years ago. It is clear that for passengers from low/ no Ebola countries going to low/ no Ebola countries there is little restricting the path of travel — flying internationally is little different than it always is.

Though what isn’t standard here are the social climates in various countries of the world regarding Ebola. The perspectives of people regarding the virus and its potential spread tend to be starkly different depending on what country they’re from, ranging from all out hysteria to hardly a whisper.

Even at the height of the Ebola scare a couple of months ago hardly anybody was even talking about it in China. It was a non-issue here as far as the public was concerned. It wasn’t really a topic of conversation, it wasn’t really something that people were scaring themselves over. It just wasn’t on the general public’s radar of concerns.

Though for those coming from countries (or even continents) with a higher Ebola prevalence, it’s a different story. Airports around the world have intensified screening and quarantine procedures for passengers coming from these regions. “Before school started my family went to Egypt and when we came back there were men at the airport who were dressed like people at the hospital. It took a long time for them to check us and the other people on the plane. It was very long and scary. We almost missed our train,” said a Chinese university student.

Such geographically discriminant procedures seem to be standard around the world. Singapore has announced that it will now impose a new temporary visa on visitors from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone because of Ebola, while Australia outright ceased granting visas to applicants from these countries. The Philippines are sending its 2,000 foreign workers and peace keeping troops working in infected countries into quarantine on a remote island when they return. The examples go on and on . . .

Though what isn’t standard here are the social climates in various countries of the world regarding Ebola. The perspectives of people regarding the virus and its potential spread tend to be starkly different depending on what country they’re from, ranging from all out hysteria to hardly a whisper.

Even at the height of the Ebola scare a couple of months ago hardly anybody was even talking about it in China. It was a non-issue here as far as the public was concerned. It wasn’t really a topic of conversation, it wasn’t really something that people were scaring themselves over. It just wasn’t on the general public’s radar of concerns.

Read more

Copyright © 2015 by Vagabond Journey Travel. This article was written by Wade Shepard and originally published on www.vagabondjourney.com