October 27, 2017

'It's safe to travel to Madagascar and Seychelles' – WHO

There’s no need to stop travelling to Madagascar due to the outbreak of plague on the Indian Ocean island.

This is according to the latest assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO) following a large outbreak of plague affecting major cities and other areas in Madagascar since August 2017. “WHO advises against any restriction on travel or trade on Madagascar based on the available information,” reads the organisation’s report from October 26.

The WHO also stressed there is no need for travel restrictions to the Seychelles following cases of suspected plague: “At this stage, Seychelles has not confirmed any plague case on its territory, and there is a very low risk that international travellers would come into contact with plague in Seychelles.”

Although declared plague free, Seychelles remains on high alert, as does Mauritius, Maldives, Reunion and South Africa.

WHO said the outbreak in Madagascar carries only a moderate risk of spread to neighbouring Indian Ocean islands, “which is mitigated naturally by the short incubation period of pneumonic plague and the institution of exit screening measures at the airport and other major ports”.

Plague is a preventable and treatable disease, however untreated pneumonic plague is always fatal. Madagascar has reported 124 deaths out of the 1 192 confirmed infections since August, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Madagascar's National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster reported on Monday.

While tourists to Madagascar and its neighbouring islands should be notified of the outbreak and follow the advice to travellers published by WHO earlier this month, the organisation stresses that there is no need to cancel travel.

Since October 10, the Madagascar Ministry of Health, with support from WHO, has implemented exit screening at the international airport in Antananarivo to prevent international spread. The Seychelles Government has also established precautionary measures in partnership with the WHO.

Need more expert travel advice on the plague outbreak? Speak to your nearest Sure Travel consultant. 


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