New Ebloa screening processes have begun at New York’s JFK International Airport. In an attempt to stream the virus that has already killed more than 4,000 people, passengers arriving from the worst hit West African countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – will be checked for high body temperatures, a common first symptom of the virus, with no-touch thermometers. Those determined to have a fever will be asked a series of questions, further evaluated and quarantined if necessary.
Health Officials are expecting false alarms from travelers who may be fevered from other illnesses. Travelers such as Eric Duncan, the first Ebola death in the US, likely would not have been identified because he arrived in the US without symptoms. Ebola is not contagious until symptoms begin, and is then spread through direct body fluid contact.
During the next week, Ebola virus checks will also be implemented at Atlanta’s Hatsfiend-Jackson Airport, as well as Newark Liberty, Chicago’s O’Hare and Washington’s Dulles in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus. The new screening comes mere days after the first US Elboa death in Texas.
US Customs report that each day, approximately 150 people travel through or from Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia to the United States and that nearly 95 percent of those passengers land at one of these five airports first.
While there are no direct flights to the United States from the West African countries, Homeland Security officials say they are able to track the beginning of passenger trips, even if they make stops along the way.
Air carriers out of France, Belgium and Morocco continue to offer service in and out of the West African region. Crew flights and US border patrol agents are continually looking for people who appear ill.
President Barack Obama says that the new screening measures are “really just belt and suspenders” to support protections already in place.