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US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

The virus has killed more than 4,800 people in West Africa, nearly all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Updated:October 23, 2014, 5:57 PM IST
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US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations
The virus has killed more than 4,800 people in West Africa, nearly all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Atlanta: Federal officials working to keep Ebola from spreading into the US have ordered that all travellers who come into the US from three Ebola-stricken West African nations now be monitored for three weeks.

Starting on Monday, anyone travelling from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will have to report in with health officials daily and take their temperature twice a day.

The measure applies not only to visitors from those countries but also returning American aid workers, federal health employees and journalists. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new step.

The virus has killed more than 4,800 people in West Africa, nearly all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

CDC Director Tom Frieden said monitoring will provide an extra level of safety.

Passengers already get screened and temperature checks before they leave West Africa and again when they arrive in the US.

"We have to keep our guard up," Frieden said.

The Obama administration has resisted increasing pressure to turn away any visitors from the three countries at the centre of the Ebola outbreak, especially after a Liberian visitor to Dallas came down with the infectious disease days after he arrived and later died.

Instead, passenger screening was put in place at 5 key US airports. That was tightened on Tuesday to funnel everyone coming from those countries through those airports so all are checked.

The monitoring programme will start in six states New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia the destination for the bulk of the travellers from the outbreak region. It will later extend to other states.

Each passenger will be required to provide contact information for themselves as well as a friend or relative. They will be instructed to check for a fever twice a day and report their temperature and any symptoms to health officials daily for 21 days.

How the checks are done in person, by phone or Skype will be decided by the states, Frieden said. If a traveller does not report in, public health officials can track them down. How far they can go to get them to cooperate is up to those officials, CDC officials said.

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