Ebola virus disease is a rare but serious infection caused by the Ebola virus. Since March 2014, there has been a large outbreak affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases have also occurred in Senegal, Nigeria, the U.S and Spain. This is the largest ever known outbreak of the disease and has prompted the World Health Organisation to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in August 2014.
Unlike the viruses that cause coughs and colds, Ebola is not spread through airborne particles; it is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and bodily fluids of an infected person who has symptoms. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with objects that have been contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing or bed linen. Ebola is not spread by routine social contact with asymptomatic people, such as shaking hands or sitting next to someone. All of the countries that host SKIP projects are currently unaffected by the Ebola outbreak. However, we are aware that this is an evolving situation and so we are regularly seeking up-to-date information from both the UK government and the World Health Organisation. The safety of our volunteers is our primary concern and in the very unlikely event that a case occurs in a country that SKIP works in, we will follow the travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
SKIP provides Summer Overseas Support (SOS) and a member of the SKIP National Committee and one of the Trustees will be on call 24 hours a day throughout the summer period. If the situation in a country changes during a project, trained SOS members will be available to handle the emerging situation and if needs be to coordinate the evacuation of a group. SKIP has a contingency fund which can be used to purchase emergency flights, prior to reimbursement from insurance companies. The SKIP website is regularly updated with the current travel advice as stated by the FCO website; alternatively please do not hesitate to contact your SKIP branch or SKIP National if you have any queries or concerns. SKIP has put together an information sheet on Ebola for our volunteers – this can be found in the resource section of our website or by clicking on the links below.