UNWTO: Plague outbreak no need to worry

LONDON, 8 November 2017: UNWTO expressed confidence in Madagascar’s measures to combat an outbreak of plague that threatens to stall the island nation’s tourism industry.

During WTM, earlier this week, UNWTO convened a meeting of tourism ministers to express solidarity and present a common message of confidence for the measures taken by Madagascar to overcome the outbreak.

Minister of Tourism of Madagascar, Roland Ratsiraka, the Minister of Tourism of Mauritius, Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, SC and the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine of the Seychelles, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne met at the sidelines of the World Travel Market in London.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

The meeting was convened and chaired by UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, in the presence of the Permanent Secretary of Kenya,  Fatuma HirsiI Mohamed, representing the chair of the UNWTO Commission for Africa, Minister Najib Balala.

Ministers clarified that all countries are adopting measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and expressed their confidence that the campaign to contain the disease is moving in the right direction.

The UNWTO Secretary-General noted that WHO does not recommend any travel bans on Madagascar and that “based on the available information to date, the risk of international spread appears very low”.

However, international media, quoted by Global Media Sentry, 3 November, paints a different picture pointing out the deadly airborne plague is spreading rapidly across Madagascar is now at ‘crisis’ point as cases have rocketed by 37% in just five days, official figures revealed.

The outbreak, the ‘worst in 50 years’, is being fuelled by a strain more lethal than the one, which usually strikes the country off the coast of Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) now states there are 1,801 suspected cases – significantly higher than the 1,309 it reported last Thursday.

Academics have revealed such a jump in cases over the period of five days is concerning and have predicted it could get worse. The most recent statistics show there have been 127 deaths.