JFK airport rolls out Ebola screenings

2014-10-11 20:52

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New York - New York's JFK airport was set to roll out health screenings for travellers arriving from Ebola-hit West African nations on Saturday, as the death toll from the deadly virus topped 4 000.

Passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will have their temperatures taken, be assessed for signs of illness and answer questions about their health and exposure history, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Suspected cases could be barred from travelling further and referred to nearby hospitals if necessary, CDC said.

The health checks were one layer of protection put in place and CDC cautioned that no screenings were air tight.

"Exit screening might not find every person with Ebola, however, it does not have to be perfect to help reduce the spread of Ebola," it said in a statement.

The scaled-up measures come after the death on Wednesday of Thomas Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the disease outside Africa, who succumbed to the disease in a Texas hospital after being given an experimental drug.

Travel hub

The case sparked panic about the possible spread of the deadly virus in the United States, though President Barack Obama said the chances of a US Ebola outbreak were "extraordinarily low."

JFK was the first airport to implement the screenings, and four other airports - Newark in New York, Chicago's O'Hare, Washington's Dulles and Atlanta international airport in Georgia - are set to start the checks within days.

Around 50% of arrivals from the three West African countries pass though New York's JFK airport, a major travel hub.

Together, all five airports account for 94% of all travellers coming into the United States from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the worst-affected countries.

CDC said it would dispatch 20 health officers to conduct the screenings.

Read more on:    us  |  ebola

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