A year after it first announced that flights from China and Europe would be funneled to select U.S. airports to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is putting similar measures in place to keep Ebola from entering the country.
The move impacts just two countries: Guinea, located on Africa’s west coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, located in the center of the continent.
“Beginning next week, the U.S. government will funnel travelers from DRC and Guinea to six U.S. airports,” the CDC announced on its website Friday. “Airlines will collect and transmit passenger information to CDC for public health follow-up and intervention for all passengers boarding a flight to the U.S. who were in DRC or Guinea within the previous 21 days.”
The CDC release said that workers would interview affected passengers on arrival to ensure they have accurate contact-tracing data. “This information will be shared with U.S. state and local health departments to appropriately monitor arrivals in their jurisdiction,” it explained.
The government said it was acting out of an abundance of caution, noting that air travel can move people who have been exposed to communicable diseases anywhere in the world in under 24 hours.
“The outbreaks are centered in remote areas of these countries,” the CDC noted. “The risk of Ebola to the United States is extremely low. The Biden Administration is committed to working closely with the affected countries to end these outbreaks before they grow into epidemics.”
Guinea, which was on the front lines of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, confirmed three people there had died from the virus in mid-February. They were the first new cases since 2016.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first Ebola vaccine for use in the United States in 2019.
“This epidemic has driven home importance of having security in global health,” Barbara Knust, a virologist and veterinarian with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told USA TODAY in 2014. “A weak public health infrastructure in one corner of the world can really have a ripple effect across the world.”
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