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October 9, 2014

Ebola Update: Most Americans Want Flights Banned from Affected Countries




Yesterday, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States died in a Dallas hospital. One day before, NBC conducted a survey of Americans on how to prevent the disease from spreading within the country—and, not surprisingly, a majority of them support banning all flights to the U.S. from countries experiencing an Ebola outbreak.

The survey found that 58 percent of Americans want a ban on incoming flights from West African countries hardest hit by the virus, such as Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Twenty percent of respondents opposed a travel ban, and the rest were uncertain.

The Ebola outbreak, the largest in history, has sickened 8,033 people and killed 3,879 as of Wednesday — and the World Health Organization said those numbers are almost certainly an underestimate, NBC noted 

International SOS has maintained a running update on the crisis and how it is affecting different regions. For example, the risk of Ebola "importation" in Europe is low, according to WHO Europe. In a press release, the Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe stated that a few cases in Europe are unavoidable "due to travel between Europe and affected countries." "Nevertheless, the risk of Ebola spreading in Europe is avoidable and extremely low. European countries are among the best prepared in the world to respond to viral haemorrhagic fever, including Ebola." Meanwhile, a second member of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) team has been infected with Ebola. He has since been evacuated from Liberia to Leipzig, Germany for treatment in the St. Georg Hospital. He is the third Ebola case to be treated in the country, the two previous cases were treated in Hamburg and Frankfurt.

RELATED: CDC and DHS Announce New Layers of Ebola Screening at Airports

In the U.S., extra screening measures are set to be implemented across five airports in the country. In a press release, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs & Border Protection (CBP) this week will begin new layers of entry screening at five U.S. airports that receive over 94 percent of travelers from the Ebola-affected nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone." The new screening at the John F. Kennedy International Airport will start on October 11, and at Newark, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O'Hare and Atlanta International Airport will be applied from next week. 

The CDC said it 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. 

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