US implements entry screening for Ebola at five airports
Travelers arriving at JFK International Airport in New York from the Ebola-affected nations in West Africa will undergo entry screening for Ebola at the airport beginning Saturday.
The CDC and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs & Border Protection (CBP) are implementing screening at five airports that receive more than 94% of travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to a joint CDC and DHS press release. The four additional airports — Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta airports — will begin screening next week.
“We work to continuously increase the safety of Americans,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said in the press release. “We believe these new measures will further protect the health of Americans, understanding that nothing we do will get us to absolute zero risk until we end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.”
Additional CDC staff will be dispatched to each airport and screening will begin when CBP officers review passports. Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will be escorted to a designated screening area, observed by CBP staff for illness and asked questions about their health and exposure. Medical staff also will take travelers’ temperatures.
Travelers with fever, symptoms or possible Ebola exposure will be evaluated by a CDC quarantine station public health officer. Those determined to require evaluation or monitoring will be referred to public health authorities. Travelers without symptoms, fever or a history of exposure will be asked to complete a daily temperature log and provide contact information.
“CBP personnel will continue to observe all travelers entering the United States for general overt signs of illnesses at all US ports of entry and these expanded screening measures will provide an additional layer of protection to help ensure the risk of Ebola in the United States is minimized,” Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of homeland security, said in the press release. “CBP, working closely with CDC, will continue to assess the risk of the spread of Ebola into the United States, and take additional measures, as necessary, to protect the American people.”
Exit screening measures at the airports in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone also have been implemented. The CDC has been working closely with airlines, airports, ministries of health and others to assist with exit screening and travel restrictions in these countries, where all outbound passengers are screened for Ebola symptoms.