image of ebola virus

Guidelines for travel to countries affected by Ebola Virus Disease

Effective November 7, 2014

Updated June 1, 2015

In March 2014 an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from Guinea.  Outbreaks then spread to neighboring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Due to the outbreak of EVD, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Travel Warning for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, urging all individuals currently residing in the United States to avoid non-essential travel to these three countries. In May 2015 the CDC reduced its warning for Liberia to a Level 2 Alert, recommending that US residents practice enhanced precautions when traveling to Liberia.  A Level 3 Warning remains in place for Guinea and Sierra Leone (“EVD-affected countries”).  More details from the CDC >>

To inform and protect the health of the Emory community, the following guidelines should be used for planning and review of activities involving travel by Emory students, faculty and staff to EVD-affected countries. As of June 1, 2015, the EVD-affected countries are Guinea and Sierra Leone.  These guidelines will also apply to travel to any other countries for which the CDC issues a Level 3 Travel Warning for the duration of this EVD outbreak.

Pre-Travel Safety and Security | Emory-sponsored travel | Humanitarian assistance | Personal travel | Returning travelers | Stigma and discrimination | Contact


Applicability

These Guidelines apply to all students, staff, and faculty of Emory University and Emory Healthcare (“Emory”).

I. Pre-Travel Safety and Security Considerations

  1. Anyone considering travel to EVD-affected countries should become familiar with Georgia Department of Public Health policies regarding regulations for screening and monitoring of individuals returning from EVD-affected countries in West Africa.
  2. Emory contracts with International SOS ("ISOS") to provide travel and security advice, as well as evacuations in the case of medical or international incidents. All Emory travelers should become familiar with the scope of ISOS services. All Emory travelers should confirm that their emergency contact information and itinerary have been uploaded into the ISOS website prior to any international trip. If an Emory preferred travel agency is used to book travel, the travel agent will input the itinerary. If travel is booked through another channel, the traveler must input their itinerary. ISOS information >>
  3. ISOS currently advises that evacuation from EVD-affected countries is highly challenging and may not be achievable. It also has stated that ISOS should not be considered a feasible evacuation source for those with active clinical Ebola symptoms. As such, ISOS evacuation from impacted areas is not guaranteed.
  4. ISOS does not support Emory faculty, staff, or students when their travel is not part of an Emory-sponsored effort. This includes, for example, volunteers who travel to impacted areas independently or through organizations other than Emory. The organization with which they are volunteering may provide coverage, including evacuation. It is the individual’s responsibility to seek information from their sponsoring organization about evacuation policies and procedures.
  5. All travelers to EVD-affected countries should develop a specific contingency plan to be implemented in case of emergency. The contingency plan should include registration with consular officials, and establishing emergency contacts in a country other than the one to which they are traveling. Guidance from the U.S. State Department, CDC, and ISOS should be used to establish the best methods for evacuation to safer area, and access to medical care.

II. Travel as Part of an Emory-Sponsored Program

  1. In light of CDC’s Level 3 warning against non-essential travel, all travel to EVD-affected countries as part of a program or plan of international travel that Emory, including its student organizations, arranges, finances, and/or sponsors (“Emory-Sponsored Program”) is prohibited unless specifically authorized.
  2. Requests for authorization to travel as part of an Emory-Sponsored Programs should be made to the Executive Travel Safety Committee, composed of the Provost, the General Counsel, the Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Initiatives, and the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, EHC Clinical/MD representative or their designees and others deemed appropriate by the President. The request should address why the travel is essential, and include a letter of support from a Dean, Director, Vice President or EHC executive.

III. Travel for Purposes of Humanitarian Assistance

  1. Although the risks associated with traveling to EVD-affected countries are significant, there is a dire need for healthcare workers in those countries to help treat patients and contain the outbreak. Emory does not discourage healthcare workers and others who wish to volunteer for the EVD outbreak response from traveling to the affected countries, provided that certain steps and precautions outlined below are followed.
  2. Those seeking to volunteer providing direct patient contact must do so in coordination with USAID Center for International Disaster Information, CDC or with a recognized NGO that provides training, travel coordination, and oversight. This will ensure that appropriate training and coordination takes place and that care and evacuation is assured in case it is needed.
  3. Those seeking to volunteer in a capacity that does not involve direct patient contact must do so also in coordination with a sponsoring organization such as the CDC or a recognized NGO that will provide travel coordination and oversight.
  4. Anyone seeking to volunteer in EVD-affected countries should seek approval from (a) their Dean, Vice President, or EHC Executive, and (b) the Executive Travel Safety Committee.

IV. Travel for Personal Reasons

  1. Emory discourages travel to EVD-affected countries for personal reasons until the Level 3 warnings are lifted.
  2. Travelers should be cognizant that evacuation from outbreak-impacted areas is highly challenging and may not be achievable. Those who choose to travel to EVD-affected countries for personal reasons before the Level 3 warnings are lifted do so at their own risk.
  3. To facilitate return to work or school, any Emory faculty, staff and students who travel to EVD-affected countries for personal reasons is encouraged to (a) purchase their own ISOS coverage (since, as noted above, ISOS does not provide Emory-sponsored coverage on travel that is not part of an Emory-sponsored effort); (b) inform their supervisor, if a staff person, or their Dean, if a student or faculty member; (c) input their personal and travel data into the ISOS website; and (d) consult with the EHC Corporate Director of Occupational Injury Management (OIM). All EHC employees are required to register with the EHC Corporate Director of OIM before travel to EVD-affected countries.

V. Returning Travelers from the EVD-Affected Countries

  1. All Emory travelers to EVD-affected countries should maintain a detailed list of their activities while in country, including dates related to all activities. (For example “we had meetings with xyz on (date), visited district health office, were outside a health/treatment facility but did not enter, had NO direct patient related activities/contact, etc.”).
  2. All travelers returning from EVD-affected countries will be subject to Georgia Department of Public Health policies regarding regulations for screening and monitoring of individuals returning from EVD-affected countries in West Africa.
  3. All Emory travelers returning from EVD-affected countries are required to report to EHC Occupational Injury Management to be monitored according to their protocol. Decisions on work and student activity restrictions (getting back to the office, providing patient care, teaching, returning to class, participation in events, further travel, etc.), monitoring and quarantine will be made by the EHC Occupational Injury Management, in consultations with others as necessary.
  4. Emory Healthcare decisions on work restrictions, monitoring and quarantine will be made by EHC Occupational Injury Management and Employee Health in collaboration with the EHC CQO/CMO and CNE. Faculty and staff working clinically at other Emory-affiliated facilities such as Grady Memorial Hospital, the VA Medical Center or Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will also need to inform the CQO/CME and/or CNE at those facilities so that decisions about when is appropriate to return to work can be made according to the policies of that institution.

Statement on Stigma and Discrimination

Emory is committed to maintaining an environment that is free of unlawful harassment and discrimination. Pursuant to Emory’s commitment to a fair and open campus environment and in accordance with federal law, Emory cannot and will not tolerate discrimination against or harassment of any individual or group based upon race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, genetic information, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran’s status, or any factor that is a prohibited consideration under applicable law.

Conscious of the deep fear surrounding EVD Emory University is committed to preventing stigma and discrimination against individuals at risk of, infected with, or recovered from EVD.

Contact

Questions related to this policy should be directed to Chris Rapalje, director of global services in the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives at 404-727-9127.