Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ebola! In South Africa?

“Fear of Ebola highest amongst people who did not pay attention during math and science class” - New Yorker Magazine :-)

I know many blogs and articles have been talking about Ebola; but I would just like to emphasize a few of the facts again, as it seems some were not paying attention in geography class either!

Many people think Africa is a country; Africa is not country but a continent, Africa consists of more than 50 countries.  Africa is 30,221,532 km2 (11,668,599 sq. mi) in size; this is the second biggest continent of the world. The continent is bigger than China, Japan, USA, India and Europe combined.

West Africa is where the outbreak of Ebola began. Countries are considered high risk, and include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
East Africa is Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, famous for wildlife and safari holidays, with no Ebola cases.
Southern Africa is where South Africa is found (our home - Cape Town and the Garden Route) along with our neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

I understand that distance these days is not an issue with air travel, but just so you understand how far Cape Town actually is from West Africa I will compare distances for you below:

West Africa to:
  • Madrid, Spain – 3600 km – 2236 miles
  •  London, United Kingdom – 4936 km – 3067 miles
  • Recife, Brazil – 3026 km – 1880 miles
  •  New York, USA – 7061 km - 4388 miles
  • CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - 5797 km – 3602 miles

Yes people, Cape Town is much further from the Ebola outbreak than Europe and South America.

Is there Ebola in South Africa?
No cases of Ebola have been reported in South Africa or in Southern Africa (that includes our neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique), so no you cannot get contaminated with Ebola in South Africa. SOUTH AFRICA IS EBOLA FREE! The last case in South Africa was in 1996, no cases reported since then. The craziest part of it all is that your chance of getting Ebola in South Africa is not as high as getting Ebola in Europe or in the USA where there have been confirmed cases of Ebola in the last few months.

South Africa has been monitoring for Ebola at all incoming airports since the start of the Ebola outbreak, unlike many cities in Europe and America that only started with monitoring of passengers in the last weeks/months.

Still concerned about getting Ebola in South Africa?
You cannot get Ebola if you do not come in to contact with a person’s body fluids that has the virus, this virus does not get spread through air like flu. (Yes, your odds of touching somebodies blood while on holiday are not that great, only if you have some weird fetish that we rather do not want to discuss!) So no, you cannot get Ebola in South Africa because nobody here has Ebola, so you cannot get in touch with those body fluids. People getting Ebola are the unfortunate family members and the very brave and unselfish medical personal that are in direct contact with these patients daily.

Your chance is bigger dying of lightning strike, car crash, plane crash, shark attack or even falling off a chair than catching Ebola – are you never going to sit on a chair again? These are just a few facts that came up when I googled. We have not even touched on terrorism threats or public violence in your own home country. Yes, you might be safer along the beautiful Garden Route of South Africa than you are back in your hometown.

Please people don't panic, don’t cancel your planned dream holiday, don’t make any hasty decisions. Do your research and come to Cape Town and the Garden Route, we do not have Ebola down here; we do not even have malaria down here. We just have awesome sunshine, beautiful scenery, beautiful beaches, great food, great wine, many adventures, great people, some awesome wildlife and nature down here.

I’m not a writer, journalist, scientist, geography expert, doctor or Ebola expert; I'm just a tour operator sharing my views on Ebola in South Africa. In no way am I trying to underestimate or undermine the seriousness of this disease. Ebola is sad and real and we have to take utmost care to get this under control.

Of course you must take great care of yourself and your loved ones when traveling, but the panic, paranoia and stupidity regarding Ebola is making me sad and angry. Tourism figures for next year in South Africa are already starting to suffer because people are making hasty decisions and are not being realistic. Think before you talk and think before you act! All that is changing in South Africa is that summer is here, the weather is getting better and better and the tourist season is already upon us!

As you can see, life goes on in South Africa!


Greetings from a sunny and warm Cape Town

Hendrik Human

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