Travel to and Visits from Ebola-affected Countries

Note: this policy has been revised. Please see the updated guidance: http://preparedness.columbia.edu/alerts/ebola-2-2016

Posted: October 13, 2014; last updated January 11, 2016

University Policy Statement

Columbia-sponsored travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is no longer subject to special restrictions that were put in place last year because of the Ebola outbreak. Travel to these countries no longer requires approval from the Provost, and guests from these countries do not need special approval for their visit to our campuses. Travelers are strongly encouraged, however, to take all precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, and other resources in connection with any international travel. Additionally, routine policies and practices regarding international projects and travel continue to apply.

For more than a year, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone experienced the largest and most complex and devastating outbreak of Ebola in history. Based on guidance provided by resources both within and outside the University, including recommendations issued by the CDC, the University previously restricted travel to these countries. Conditions have now improved, and the CDC no longer recommends against travel to these countries. Although the risk of Ebola transmission currently is reportedly low, the healthcare infrastructure in all three countries was severely strained by the Ebola outbreak and the University remains concerned that getting medical care in the region might be difficult and sometimes impractical. Accordingly, the University recommends that anyone considering travel to these countries contact the Columbia Health Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Babie Mar Regner, at br2331@columbia.edu or 212-854-7426 for guidance prior to departure and upon their return.

The University is in the process of revising its travel policy to ensure that we can contact and provide services to individuals traveling abroad should incidents occur, and we will provide updates to our community shortly. In the meantime, we strongly recommend registering all trips outside the U.S. with the University’s evacuation provider, International SOS, by following the steps listed on Columbia’s Register Your Trip page. There is no cost to do so, and when you register, International SOS will provide you with emergency contact information in case of need.

We extend our deepest gratitude to those whose efforts contributed to the greatly improved conditions in this region, particularly to the many Columbians who braved the risks of traveling to these countries to help contain and eradicate the epidemic, and to those whose hard work continues.