Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Tom Freiden, announced there will be an increase in security measures for travellers entering the U.S. from Western Africa. News of tightened airline security measures came swiftly after health officials announced that Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian Ebola patient, had died in Texas on Wednesday. According to PBS News all major airlines are required to check the temperatures of people arriving from West African countries.
New York will be the first airport to screen travellers and is expected to start this week. Newark, Chicago and Atlanta are scheduled to start monitoring passenger temperatures next week.
The new measures will affect New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Chicago and Atlanta. Checking for elevated temperatures is only the first line of defense and is not always accurate, reported the CDC. Many concerned Americans do not trust temperature screenings of passengers, since people do not show symptoms of a fever until the virus becomes infectious and the person shows signs of illness. Symptoms could take up to 21 days to develop in a person, but this is the first attempt at preventing the virus from entering the country.
Fears increased when Texas Deputy Sgt. Michael Monnig entered the hospital this week. The deputy has begun feeling sick after he delivered a quarantine letter to Duncan’s family. He has stated that he did not wear any personal protective equipment before entering.
Extreme precautions were taken to transport Monnig to Texas Presbyterian Hospital, the same hospital that treated Duncan. The ambulance was prepared extensively and emergency workers were properly dressed to treat Monnig. He received his test results late Thursday, with results showing that he does not have Ebola. This announcement still has many Americans cautious and seeking a heightened response by the CDC.
According to NBC, an unidentified airport official stated that the Newark, NJ airport was not ready to ramp up next week’s precautions. The official says that changes for travellers at major airlines is pending supplies needed to combat Ebola. He does not see the airport moving forward, due to a lack of resources. The official stated that the airport is still waiting for sanitizer, temperature screening devices and other supplies needed to keep the crew, staff and public safe. All airports are expected to receive adequate supplies before screenings launch.
Airline workers are also speaking out. In New York, close to 200 airline cleaners went on strike because they have been working and cleaning planes to keep passengers safe, and many of these workers fear that their lives are in danger. Without the proper cleaning gear, changes of clothes or supplies, the airline cleaners are not comfortable with their working conditions, fearing the possibility of contracting Ebola due to contact with human bodily fluids. Workers protested, marched and chanted “Air Serv unsafe.”
Air Serv Cabin is the contract company that services Delta airlines. ABC says that protesters have plans to spread to other airports effected by the Ebola scare such as Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta. For now detailed plans on how to best handle airline travellers from Ebola-stricken countries is pending, but changes are coming soon as the global community ramps up security efforts and relief workers travel to West Africa.
By Carolette Wright