Ebola: Obama will increase airport screenings, won't ban West Africa flights

Ebola: Obama will increase airport screenings, won't ban West Africa flights
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Monday, President Obama said that the U.S. is looking at better ways to screen passengers traveling to the U.S. from Ebola-infected countries in West Africa. A travel ban of flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea is not being considered, despite calls from some lawmakers. "In recent months we've had thousands of travelers arriving here from West Africa," Obama told reporters, "and so far only one case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States, and that's the patient in Dallas."

Neither the World Health Organization nor the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised travel restrictions from afflicted nations.

Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone already have some pre-boarding screening in place, with passengers required to fill out a questionnaire and, at least in Liberia, undergo a thermal scan to check for fever. The Dallas patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, had no symptoms when he got on the plane in Liberia and apparently lied on his form. The U.S. measures may include U.S. temperature checks at U.S. airports for people on flights from West Africa, closer monitoring of international passengers' itineraries, and some sort of screening at West African airports, a U.S. official tells The Washington Post. Some of those precautions are already in place.

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Obama also said that the odds of an Ebola epidemic in the U.S. "are extraordinarily low," and chided other countries for not doing enough to fight the deadly outbreak in West Africa: "I'll be honest with you: Although we have seen interest on the part of the international community, we have not seen other countries step up," he said. "We've had some small countries that are punching above their weight on this but we've got some large countries that aren't doing enough." --Peter Weber

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