The deadly Ebola virus hitchhiking across borders for the first time aboard a pan-African airline could spell new flight restrictions aimed at containing outbreaks, the world aviation agency said Tuesday.
International Civil Aviation Organisation Secretary-General Raymond Benjamin said, "Until now (the virus) had not impacted commercial aviation, but now we're affected."
Earlier, Togo-based airline ASKY announced the suspension of flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone, both hit by an outbreak of Ebola virus.
This followed the death of one of its passengers from the virus on Friday after the 40-year-old man had travelled from Liberia to Nigeria via the Togolese capital Lome.
POSSIBLE NEW PROTOCOLS
"We will have to act quickly.
"We will consult with the WHO (World Health Organization) to see what types of measures should be put in place" to guard against spreading the disease," Benjamin said.
No date, however, has been set for an emergency meeting of both WHO and ICAO officials to discuss possible new protocols.
ASKY, which works in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines, serves 20 destinations in central and west Africa.
Since March, there have been 1,201 cases of Ebola and 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.