White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today announced that travelers arriving at Dulles Airport from Ebola hot spots in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea would experience additional screening starting Saturday.
Customs and Border Protection workers also will implement the new safety measures at JFK, Newark, O’Hare and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airports. Together the five airports serve 94 percent of those traveling from those three West African countries—about 150 passengers per day.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the Dallas man who contracted Ebola in Liberia and died this morning, entered the U.S. on a flight to Dulles Sept. 20 and then caught a connecting flight to Texas. Officials have said there was no public health threat during the time he was at the airport, because he was not showing symptoms of the disease at that time.
According to an Ebola response fact sheet released by the White House today, representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been working since August with airlines, airports, ministries of health, and others to develop exit screening protocols and train airport staff members.
Under the procedures, outbound passengers are screened for Ebola symptoms in the affected countries, including required health questionnaires, visual assessments for potential illness, and body temperature measurements. Travelers with high fevers are subject to additional screening and possibly isolation.
At the U.S. airports, CBP personnel will review all arriving international travelers for general overt signs of illnesses. When a traveler is identified with a possible communicable disease or identified from information that is received from the CDC, CBP personnel will isolate the traveler from others and seek a medical assessment from the CDC along with local public health authorities.
CBP officers also are handing out fact sheets to travelers arriving in the U.S. from Ebola-affected countries, which detail information on Ebola, health signs to look for, and information for their doctor should they need to seek medical attention in the future.