JFK in New York will be one of the five U.S. airports screening West African passengers for ebola. (Photo: Getty Images)
On the same day that the first U.S. ebola patient died, the U.S. government announced that it will begin physically screening passengers from three West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
The screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport, then begin soon after at Washington Dulles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Newark.
Passengers are screened for illness as they arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in late August. (Photo: Athit Perawongmeth/Reuters)
The vast majority of fliers won’t be affected. Only the 150 or so estimated arriving passengers from the three countries will be subject to screenings, which include taking temperature with high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin, and asking questions about their potential exposure.
President Barack Obama said the airport checks are “really just belt and suspenders” to support existing protections. Border Patrol agents and flight crews already look for people who are obviously ill, and when they deem it necessary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is notified.
Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man, died Wednesday in Dallas of Ebola. He did not show symptoms when he entered the U.S.