Five Duke faculty members have received approval for research in Liberia, despite travel restrictions to the country due to the Ebola virus.

Currently, Duke has full-country travel restrictions for undergraduate students on Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone—four West African countries that have been heavily affected by the outbreak. Faculty, staff members and graduate and professional students have been strongly discouraged from traveling to the region. Individuals who wish to take voluntary and mission-critical trips to the four countries, however, can request an exception to the policy.

The five faculty members applied for an exception to the traveling policy in order to conduct clinical trial research in Liberia, Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh confirmed. Their request was granted after being reviewed by a special committee.

One faculty member will leave for Liberia later this month, and the four others will depart in 2015.

Duke Hospital is currently not one of the 35 U.S. Ebola treatment centers, according to a new list by the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday. Duke Medicine has been alarmed by two potential cases of Ebola since August, both of which proved to be false.

The first case appeared Oct. 15, when a baby who had recently traveled to West Africa was admitted to Duke Regional Hospital after displaying symptoms of fever. The second case involved an individual returning to the United States from Liberia, who was brought to Duke University Hospital after displaying a fever and eventually tested negative for Ebola.

The outbreak has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. WHO has deemed the current situation stable in Guinea and noted a declining trend in Liberia. This level of progress has not been noted in Sierra Leone, however.

Travel restrictions were in place for Sierra Leone prior to the outbreak for security reasons, and restrictions were placed on Liberia and Guinea in August as the outbreak spread. Restrictions on Nigeria came later this Fall.