DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The national airline of the United Arab Emirates said Monday it has disinfected one of its planes after health authorities there announced that a Nigerian woman who died after flying in to the capital, Abu Dhabi, may have been infected with the Ebola virus.
The health authority in Abu Dhabi said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM that the 35-year-old woman was traveling from Nigeria to India for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.
Her health deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport. As medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection. The health authority noted, however, that her preexisting medical condition also could have explained her death.
Medical staff treating the woman followed safety and precautionary measures in line with World Health Organization guidelines, the health authority statement added.
The woman’s husband, who was the only person sitting next to her on the plane, as well as five medics who treated her are being isolated pending test results on the deceased woman. All are in good health and show no symptoms of the illness, according to health officials.
Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier, said the plane was disinfected in line with guidelines laid out by the airline industry’s main trade group. It said it continues to monitor the situation and is working with health authorities “to ensure the implementation of any and all measures necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of its passengers and staff.”
An Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,100 people, mostly in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to WHO figures. Four people have died after contracting the disease in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
The Ebola virus is typically transmitted through direct person-to-person contact or through contact with bodily secretions from an infected person. The WHO considers the risk to passengers traveling on a flight with an infected person to be very low.
Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest of seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates. The country has grown into a major long-haul aviation hub. It is home to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline.
Emirates earlier this month became the first carrier to halt flights to Guinea because of concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus there.
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