AP Photo / Abdeljalil BounharA health screening worker shows the way to passengers at the arrivals hall of an airport.
The US will begin requiring travelers from three countries in West Africa to arrive at one of five airports, USA Today reports.
Anyone traveling to the US from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea will be required to arrive at Washington’s Dulles, Chicago’s O’Hare, New Jersey’s Newark, New York’s John F. Kennedy, or Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airports.
About 150 people per day arrive in the US from these countries, and 94% of them were already coming through these airports, according to USA Today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will send extra staff to these five airports to help with the screening of passengers entering the country, according to a press release from the agency.
The government has come under increasing pressure to contain Ebola in the US after a man contracted the disease in Liberia and flew to the US before showing any symptoms.
“We work to continuously increase the safety of Americans,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a press release. “We believe these new measures will further protect the health of Americans, understanding that nothing we can do will get us to absolute zero risk until we end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.”
Ebola has hit Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea the hardest. The deadly virus is still far from being contained in these countries, and thousands of people have fallen ill already.
All travelers coming into the US from those three countries will be taken aside for screening, during which staff will observe them for signs of illness, ask them a series of health and exposure questions, and take their temperature, according to the CDC release.
If the traveler is thought to require further evaluation, he or she will be referred to a public health authority.
This screening process in the US will serve as a second layer of protection. Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea already do exit screenings for people leaving those countries.
From the CDC:
In the last two months since exit screening began in the three countries, of 36,000 people screened, 77 people were denied boarding a flight because of the health screening process. None of the 77 passengers were diagnosed with Ebola and many were diagnosed as ill with malaria, a disease common in West Africa, transmitted by mosquitoes and not contagious from one person to another.
Two people have contracted Ebola in the US, both of whom are nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan. He came to the US for a visit and became sick shortly after he arrived. Duncan died earlier this month.