ATL begins screening of travelers from West Africa

Filed in Employees, News, Security by on October 21, 2014

ebola screeningAfter growing concern over the spread of the Ebola virus, Hartsfield-Jackson continues to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and all other relevant agencies and partners to ensure the safety of travelers and employees at the Airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson has joined four other major U.S. airports in screening travelers coming from the three West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak – including travelers who changed planes on the way to Atlanta. Staff from the CDC and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are assisting in the enhanced screening process.

Currently, only 5-7 people each day arrive in Atlanta from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. By contrast, about 50 fly into New York’s JFK each day, for a total of about 150 nationwide. According to CBP officials in Atlanta, flight manifests will be used to flag travelers from the affected countries before they step off the plane so they can be separated from the other passengers upon arrival.

Travelers from West Africa will be screened using an infrared thermometer that does not require contact with the subject. If the traveler has a high fever or other potential Ebola symptoms, he or she will be taken to one of four designated local hospitals for further medical evaluation and possible quarantine. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs is overseeing training of CBP employees in proper health-safety practices.

Because West African travelers are routinely screened for Ebola symptoms before boarding international flights – and again if they take a connecting flight – the risk of infection to ATL employees is  remote, CDC officials explained, especially since the virus can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone showing symptoms from the disease.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely,” says General Manager Miguel Southwell. “Every necessary precaution will be taken to ensure the disease does not pose a threat to the Airport or its employees.”

For more information about the disease, visit the Ebola page on the CDC website.

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