The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Liberia, except for those involved in the direct response to the Ebola outbreak, due to the narrow commercial options for flights and the impact of the outbreak on medical facilities.
An outbreak of Ebola virus has been confirmed in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern.’ Air France has suspended flights to Sierra Leone and some other airlines have also suspended flights to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
General medical facilities throughout Liberia are currently under severe strain due to the Ebola outbreak, and are unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the UK. Dedicated healthcare facilities for Ebola are overwhelmed. Many medical facilities expect to be paid up-front.
If you are a British national you should stay in contact with your employer or host organisation about the support that they can provide to you while you are in the country, or should you wish to leave. If you travel to Liberia to help in the relief effort, you should make sure that you are contracted to a reputable organisation that is able to provide the support and risk assessments required. You should be aware that the narrow range of commercial flight options and restrictions on travel in the region may make it difficult to leave, particularly at short notice, and you should consider your own plans in this context.
On 27 July, the government of Liberia announced that all borders of Liberia had been closed, with the exception of major entry points including the Roberts International Airport and James Spriggs Payne Airport. All land border crossing points are closed to traffic with the exception of urgent humanitarian supplies.
A nationwide curfew started on 20 August. No movement is allowed between the hours of 11pm and 6am. The Liberian authorities are setting up road blocks to restrict movement around the country (except for categories of essential workers and humanitarian supplies) and using the security forces to enforce quarantine for certain areas including Monrovia and Lofa County. The Liberia Airport Authority has introduced enhanced screening measures for both inbound and outbound travellers at airport facilities.
There have been some violent incidents associated with the Ebola outbreak. You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
Although the chances of being infected remain low, there are measures you can take to prevent catching Ebola. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre to:
- avoid contact with symptomatic patients and their bodily fluids
- avoid contact with corpses and/or bodily fluids from deceased patients.
- avoid close contact with live or dead wild animals
- avoid consumption of “bush meat”
- practice safe sex
- follow strict hand washing routines
If you’re travelling to the UK within 21 days of a visit to Liberia or any other Ebola-affected country, you should make yourself known to UK Passport Control to be screened. For further details about the screening process, see the Public Health England website.
Anybody concerned that they might have been exposed to, or showing symptoms of Ebola should seek immediate medical advice. If you’re in the UK call NHS on 111. See Health.
The small British Embassy and Honorary Consul in Monrovia can only offer limited consular assistance.
There is a low threat from terrorism. See Terrorism
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.