Passengers from Ebola-hit countries to enter US through five airports

22 October 2014 (Last Updated October 22nd, 2014 18:30)

The US has tightened restrictions on passengers travelling from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, who will now only be allowed to enter the country through one of the five airports screening for the disease.

The US has tightened restrictions on passengers travelling from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, who will now only be allowed to enter the country through one of the five airports screening for the disease.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Jeh C Johnson made the announcement about the new regulations.

The five airports to be carrying out the screening are New York’s John F Kennedy, New Jersey’s Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airports.

"We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption."

Johnson said in a statement: "We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the US, who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days.

"We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travellers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed."

Working together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DHS has already started carrying out enhanced screening measures at these five airports. Passengers entering the US from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have to undergo secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the country.

These five airports account for 94% of passengers flying to the US from these countries. The statement further said that there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to any airport in the US.

The Ebola outbreak has claimed 4,500 lives, mostly from the three African countries. Only three Ebola cases have been diagnosed in the US to date.