WASHINGTON: The United States and Canada announced stepped-up airport screening measures Wednesday to look for passengers carrying Ebola, as the deadly virus killed a man in Texas and the worldwide toll neared 3,900.
The spillover of the virus — with the first diagnosis in United States and the first case of infection in Spain — has raised fears of contagion in the West.
The world’s largest outbreak of Ebola has killed 3,865 people out of 8,033 infected so far this year, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organization’s latest count.
But the WHO sought to contain concerns of a wider outbreak in Europe after a Spanish nurse was infected, with regional director Zsuzsanna Jakab saying sporadic cases in Europe were “unavoidable” but the risk of a full outbreak was “extremely low.”
In Washington, officials announced increased screening at five major airports including in New York, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta and New Jersey.
And Canadian health minister Rona Ambrose said passengers arriving from west African countries affected by the epidemic must go through tightened controls, though she didn’t specify where these would take place.
Meanwhile, two people were hospitalized in Los Angeles and Dallas for possible exposure to Ebola.
The Los Angeles case, concerning a patient who’d traveled to Liberia, turned out to be a false alarm.
In the Dallas case, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Tom Frieden said, “there is someone who does not have either definite contact with Ebola or definite symptoms of Ebola who is being assessed.”
Ebola is transmitted by close contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is showing symptoms of infection such as fever, aches, vomiting and diarrhea, or who has recently died of the hemorrhagic virus, experts say.