#Ebola US begins West Africa air passenger screening

Travellers from Ebola-affected countries will face increased security scrutiny at five major US airports.

Passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will have their temperatures taken and have to answer questions.

The new measures at O’Hare in Chicago, JFK and Newark in the New York area, Washington’s Dulles, and Atlanta’s airport will begin in the coming days.

The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 3,000 people and infected more than 7,200, mostly in West Africa.

The increase in passenger testing comes after the first person diagnosed with Ebola on US soil died in Dallas on Wednesday.

Thomas Duncan travelled to the US from Liberia, and was only diagnosed with the disease once he arrived in Texas.

A police officer who visited Mr Duncan’s home is now reported to have Ebola-like symptoms and has been taken to hospital as a precaution.

Frisco Mayor Maher Maso described the risk as “minimal”, but officials were taking “an abundance of caution”

Test results were expected back within about 48 hours, Mr Maso said.

‘Most likely malaria’

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will dispatch staff to these five airports, which account for 90% of travellers to the US. As many as 160 people enter the US from those countries each day.

Travellers will be given a questionnaire, and if they answer yes to any questions or are running a fever, a representative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will intervene and provide a public health assessment.

Factsheets will be distributed to travellers with information on symptoms of Ebola and instructions to call a doctor if they become ill within three weeks.

“We expect to see some patients with fever and that will cause some obvious and understandable concern,” said CDC director Dr Tom Frieden. But those cases will most likely be malaria, which is widespread in West Africa, he said.

If a patient does display a fever, he or she may be handed over to local health workers for further oversight.

The changes are currently set to begin at JFK on Saturday and the other four airports some time next week.

“We’re always looking for ways we can better protect Americans,” Dr Frieden added. But, given the ongoing nature of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, “we can’t get the risk to zero in this country”.

Earlier, President Barack Obama said the new security measures would “give us the ability to isolate, evaluate and monitor travellers as needed, and we’ll be able to collect any contact information that’s necessary”.

“If we don’t follow protocols and procedures that are put in place, then we’re putting folks in our communities at risk,” he added. “We don’t have a lot of margin for error.”

Clued from BBC

 

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