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CDC planning new travel-related measures to fight Ebola

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Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden speaks during a news conference after confirming that a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, announced Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. The person, an adult who was not publicly identified, developed symptoms days after returning to Texas from Liberia and showed no symptoms on the plane, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP Photo/John Bazemore

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it will soon announce new travel-related recommendations aimed at stopping the spread of Ebola in the United States, and indicated the new measures would be announced later this week.

CDC Director Tom Frieden didn't say whether the new recommendations would include a ban on flights from the three West African countries that have suffered an Ebola outbreak. But he did say the steps are related to travel, and said he knows many Americans are worried about how international travel could contribute to an outbreak in the United States.

Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden said Tuesday that new recommendations to fight the spread of Ebola will soon be made, possibly this week. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

"As the president said yesterday, we're looking hard at what we can do to further increase the safety of Americans, and in the coming days, we will announce further measures that will be taken," Frieden said.

Aside from a travel ban, the steps could include enhanced screening of passengers coming to the United States, and efforts to improve the tracking of passengers who might be trying to come to the United States indirectly.

One specific change that could be coming is requiring people who arrive in the United States to have their temperature checked and to fill out a questionnaire about their activities while overseas. Those steps are already required of people boarding planes in West Africa, and Frieden said the CDC is looking "very carefully" at those ideas.

Frieden seemed to indicate a full travel ban would not be announced, as he again stressed the importance of ensuring that people can travel between the U.S. and West Africa to help fight Ebola there.

"If we do something that impedes our ability to stop the outbreak in West Africa, it could spread further there, we could have more countries like Liberia, and the challenge would be much greater and go on for a much longer period of time," he said.

When pressed about whether enhanced screening might take place at airports, Frieden said the CDC is working "intensively" on the screening process, and is looking at "all the options" for new recommendations.

"We're not today providing the steps that we plan to take, but I can assure you that we will be taking additional steps, and we will be making those public in the coming days, once we can work out the details," he said.

Several members of Congress have called on the Obama administration to recommend a temporary ban on travel from the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But the CDC and other Obama administration officials have dismissed this as an idea that would make it harder for the U.S. to bring aid to those countries.

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