The Department of Homeland Security has announced enhanced airport screening to further protect the United States from imported cases of Ebola. Namely, passengers flying from several countries in West Africa will have to pass through one of five airports in the U.S. with specific screening measures already in place.
"Last week, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHS implemented enhanced screening measures at five airports around the country – New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago. Passengers flying into one of these airports from flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are subject to secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. "These airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries. At present there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to any airport in the United States."
Arriving passengers make their way from Terminal 4 at the JFK airport in New York on October 11, 2014. The airport started health screenings for travelers arriving from Ebola-hit West African nations on October 11. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Starting Wednesday, travelers originating from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea — the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak thus far — will be required to fly into one of the airports with these enhanced screening measures in place.
"We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption," Johnson said. "If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.
"We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days."
Johnson said he had a call with the border patrol offices that are present at these five airports Monday and reminded them to be "vigilant in their efforts." He "encouraged them to set a calm example for an American public nervous about Ebola."