The outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is getting worse. The World Health Organisation reports that 1,396 have already lost their lives in this latest outbreak with a total 2,071 reported cases as of 10 June 2019. Perhaps more worryingly, Ugandan authorities confirmed the deaths of two people yesterday, only two days after the first incidence on 11 June 2019.

During previous outbreaks there were numerous instances of vessels considered to be at risk of carrying the disease being refused entry to ports to mitigate the spread of the disease. The risk of disruption to the normal flow of sea going traffic and trade can be indirect and unpredictable as shown by the 2014 instance of a cruise ship turned away from Mexico and Belize because it had aboard a Texas based health worker who had handled the blood of a Liberian man who died of the disease in the US.

Efforts to mitigate the spread have been initiated in Uganda with a cancellation of mass gatherings including market days. While no port closures have been announced in either country and WHO reports the outbreak to be confined to the inner provinces of the DRC for now, port closures are likely to be announced should the disease threaten to spread further.

Reed Smith are able to advise on the legal implications of the Ebola outbreak, including the drafting of Ebola clauses. If you have any questions, please contact Sally-Ann Underhill, Stephen Kirkpatrick or your usual Reed Smith contact.