Ebola Checks Start at New York’s JFK


New York’s JFK airport is the first in the country to start screening people arriving from West Africa in an attempt to ensure Ebola doesn’t enter the country.  People arriving from the worst hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will have their temperature taken and need to answer a series of questions.

Similar checks at O’Hare in Chicago, Newark, Washington’s Dulles and Atlanta’s airport will be starting in the next few days.  This follows the first death in the country from Ebola this week, an outbreak that has now killed over 4000 people.

Latest figures

Thomas Duncan travelled from Liberia to the US but was only diagnosed with the disease after he had arrived at his destination in Dallas.

The latest figures given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that the total death toll due to the haemorrhagic fever is now standing at 4,033.  Of these, 4,024 were in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Elsewhere, the Moroccan government has asked for the football tournament the Africa Cup of Nations to be postponed due to the outbreak.  It is due to start early next year.  Similarly, Liberia has postponed its senate elections due to the risk of spreading the virus.

The crisis has now resulted in the first time activation of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.  Its normal role is to provide imagery from satellites to enable to creation of hazard-assessment maps.


As well as the checks beginning in large US airports, the British government has announced it will begin to screen passengers from the West African countries.

The checks will involve asking patients about travel details before leaving for the US and also if they have had any contact with anyone who has contracted the disease.  If they answer ‘yes’ to the question or have a fever, a representative of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be called in to provide an assessment.

Factsheets will be given to travellers that provides information about symptoms and with instructions about contacting a doctor if they fall ill within three weeks of arriving.  These five airports handle around 90% of travellers entering the US with as many as 160 people entered from the worst affected countries on a daily basis.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that there was no cause for alarm and that the city was ‘particularly well prepared’.  Hospitals and emergency medical staff have all been trained on how to identify the disease and on isolation procedures.

However, to test the readiness of services, people pretending to have the disease ‘simulated patients’ have been walking into hospital emergency rooms to test the systems put in place.


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