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US to begin new layers of Ebola entry screening at airports

In its effort to prevent any Ebola-infected patient entering America’s shores, the US will introduce additional screening of passengers at the country’s five busiest airports from this week.

The five airports are John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

New York’s JFK International Airport will begin the new screening on Saturday. In the 12 months ending July 2014, JFK received nearly half of travelers from the three West African nations. The enhanced entry screening at Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare, and Atlanta international airports will be implemented next week, US officials said.

These airports receive over 94% of total travelers from the Ebola-affected nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

“CBP (Customs & Border Protection) 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,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

“We work to continuously increase the safety of Americans,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden.

“We believe these new measures will further protect the health of Americans, understanding that nothing we can do will get us to absolute zero risk until we end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa,” he said.

This is part of the American effort to prevent the spread of the disease inside the country.

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. Medical staffs will take their temperature with a non-contact thermometer.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama reviewed Ebola preparedness with his top military commanders when he visited the Pentagon yesterday.

“Our military is essentially building an infrastructure that does not exist in order to facilitate the transport of personnel and equipment and supplies to deal with this deadly epidemic and disease,” Obama said.

“We are doing it in a way that ensures our men and women in uniform are safe. That has been my top priority, and I’ve instructed folks we’re not going to compromise the health and safety of our armed services,” he said.

“But what’s true is, we have unique capabilities that nobody else has. And as a consequence of us getting in early and building that platform, we’re now able to leverage resources from other countries and move with speed and effectiveness to curb that epidemic,” he said.

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