DHS Travel Restrictions to Prevent Spread of Ebola
In October, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented restrictions for travelers coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak. DHS announced that all U.S. ports of entry will have more screenings and added protective measures for individuals who were present in those three countries in the past 21 days.
In a cooperative effort to help prevent the spread of the disease in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHS have worked to implement enhanced screening measures specifically at five airports around the country: New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago. DHS is requiring airlines to route passengers from the three Ebola-affected countries to these five airports, where passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are subject to a secondary screening before they can be admitted into the United States. These travelers will also be subject to the following additional measures:
- They will be isolated from other travelers while they complete a contact information form and questionnaire.
- Medically-trained personnel will take their temperature. If a traveler has a fever or other Ebola symptoms, or if they may have been exposed to Ebola, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will refer the traveler to CDC for a public health assessment. It will then be up to the CDC to determine whether the traveler can continue to travel.
- Travelers are being encouraged to seek health care at the first sign of any potential illness.
Through these measures, DHS (via USCBP) is prepared to respond to Ebola and other potential public health threats. CBP and the CDC have closely coordinated to develop policies, procedures, and protocols to identify potentially infected travelers and to minimize the risk to the traveling public. The CDC has stated that the risk of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low, but that these prudent steps will mitigate the spread of Ebola in the United States.
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