Ebola as a geography teaching tool

On a nonstop flight from London Heathrow to Cape Town last week, I had to sign a compulsory new form stating that I didn’t have any ebola-like symptoms, and that I would notify … er, somebody, possibly the Department of Home Affairs, though they didn’t provide any sort of literature for me to take with, such as a checklist of ebola symptoms or a number to call.

But since my travel originated 3000 miles from the ebola outbreak–ok, technically when in the plane we were fairly close, but ebola is not able to infect people in the sky–it really is a non-issue. I’m guessing that travelers headed from London to New York do not have to fill out similar forms; I didn’t have to fill out anything when flying from Cape Town to London a week earlier. London is a good 600 miles closer to the center of the outbreaks than is Cape Town.

After reports in the local press about large numbers of Asian tourists canceling trips to South Africa because “it’s Africa,” the local tourism board issued a press release saying that it’s safe ebola-wise to come to Cape Town–but it (almost) unbelievably began with the word “Panic.” Mixing messages about the health of the people and the economy with reactionary freakouts obviously does nothing to calm people down.

I far prefer the infographic below, where the Safari Company finds a teachable moment in the ebola crisis by illustrating Afro-European geography, and how safaris in Eastern and Southern Africa are further from the outbreak than much of Western Europe: