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US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

Published:Wednesday | October 22, 2014 | 12:58 PM


Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said yesterday that everyone travelling into the United States (US) from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees and journalists, as well as West African travellers.

The programme will start Monday in six states that represent 70 per cent of people arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC Director Tom Frieden said monitoring would extend to other states in coming days and reach "every person coming back to the country for the 21 days they are at risk for Ebola". He said it would continue until the outbreak in West Africa is controlled.

"We have to keep our guard up," Frieden told reporters on a conference call.

Local and state officials will perform the daily monitoring, which may consist of keeping up with people by phone or visits. The first states are New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia.

Individuals arriving from West Africa will receive "care kits" that include thermometers, detailed information on how to take their temperature twice a day, and logs for recording the information. Temperatures must be reported to health officials at least once per day, he said.

Frieden said the message to travellers is: "If you become sick, get care quickly because that could save your life and protect your family."

The kits also will include information on whom to call if symptoms occur and a card the traveller can present to health care providers if they seek care.

Checking temperatures

CDC already was telling its own employees and other health professionals working in the outbreak zone to monitor their temperature for 21 days upon return, so yesterday's announcement adds another step to their ongoing fever watch.

The new programme comes after authorities announced yesterday plans to funnel all visitors from the three nations through five airports where fever checks and other Ebola screening measures have been put in place.

Meanwhile, an American video journalist who has recovered from Ebola left the hospital yesterday and headed home to Providence, Rhode Island.

"Today is a joyful day," Ashoka Mukpo said in a statement released by the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The hospital said testing found him free of the virus now.