Ebola screening at US airports

Ebola screening at US airportsEbola screening at US airports

Travellers from Ebola-affected countries will face increased security scrutiny at American airports.

The Department of Homeland Security has ordered agents at airports and other ports to “observe” arrivals for potential signs of Ebola infection.

Passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will have their temperatures taken and have to answer questions, according to Reuters news agency,

The deadly Ebola outbreak has already infected more than 7,200 people. The new security measures, rolled out by the Transportation Security Administration, will reportedly take effect this weekend or early next week.

On Monday, US President Obama announced the upcoming plans, saying “we don’t have a lot of margin of error” in containing the spread of the deadly virus.

More than 3,400 people have already died in West Africa, and Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan is in critical condition in Dallas after becoming the first person to be diagnosed with the disease outside Africa.

The first case of contagion outside that continent was also confirmed in Spain on Monday, where a nurse who treated an Ebola victim in Madrid contracted the virus herself.

Mr Obama, who spoke after a White House briefing with US health officials, said the US government would push to ensure doctors and other medical professionals responded appropriately if they came in contact with a patient with Ebola-like symptoms.

“We’re also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening both at the source and here in the United States,” he said.

The US president also criticised foreign governments for not acting “as aggressively as they need to” against the outbreak.

“Countries that think that they can sit on the sidelines and just let the United States do it, that will result in a less effective response, a less speedy response, and that means that people die.

“And it also means that the potential spread of the disease beyond these areas in West Africa becomes more imminent,” Mr Obama said.

Passengers leaving affected countries already have their temperatures checked, but people do not become infectious until they display symptoms.

Mr Duncan was screened for symptoms when he left Liberia but appeared healthy. He did not develop symptoms of Ebola until four days later, when he was in the US.

Ten people who came into direct contact with him are being closely monitored but none has yet displayed any Ebola symptoms.

Dr Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has ruled out banning flights to the US, arguing the isolation would only worsen the outbreak within Africa and would deny those countries crucial aid.

Caption: Passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will face added layers of security upon arrival in the US