Starting this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will initiate new layers of entry screening in five U.S. airports that receive over 94% of travelers from Ebola-affected nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
JFK International Airport in New York will start the new screening process on Saturday. The enhanced entry screening at Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare, and Atlanta international airports will be implemented next week.
CDC is sending additional staff to each of the five airports. After passport review:
- Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will be escorted by CBP to an area of the airport set aside for screening.
- Trained CBP staff will observe them for signs of illness, ask them a series of health and exposure questions, and provide health information for Ebola and reminders to monitor themselves for symptoms. Trained medical staff will take their temperature with a non-contact thermometer.
- If the travelers have fever, symptoms, or the health questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, they will be evaluated by a CDC quarantine station public health officer. The public health officer will again take a temperature reading and make a public health assessment. Travelers, who after this assessment, are determined to require further evaluation or monitoring will be referred to the appropriate public health authority.
- Travelers from these countries who have neither symptoms/fever nor a known history of exposure will receive health information for self-monitoring.
Entry screening includes an exit screening and standard public health practices such as patient isolation and contact tracing in countries with Ebola outbreaks. Since the beginning of August, CDC has been working with airlines, airports, ministries of health, and other partners to provide technical assistance for the development of exit screening and travel restrictions in countries affected by Ebola. This includes:
- Assessing the capacity to conduct exit screening at international airports;
- Assisting countries with procuring supplies needed to conduct exit screening;
- Supporting with development of exit screening protocols;
- Developing tools such as posters, screening forms, and job-aids; and
- Training staff on exit screening protocols and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
As of now, all outbound passengers are screened for Ebola symptoms in the affected countries including a travel health questionnaire, being visually assessed for potential illness, and having their body temperature measured. Exit screening at airports in countries affected by Ebola remains the principal means of keeping travelers from spreading Ebola to other nations. All three of these nations have asked for, and continue to receive, CDC assistance in strengthening exit screening.
For more information visit CDC.gov.