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NEW YORK — Customs and health officials began taking the temperatures of passengers arriving at New York’s Kennedy International Airport from three West African countries on Saturday in a stepped-up screening effort meant to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus. Federal health officials said the entry screenings, which will expand to four additional U.S. airports in the next week, add another layer of protection to halt the spread of a disease that has killed more than 4,000 people.
“Already there are 100 percent of the travelers leaving the three infected countries are being screened on exit. Sometimes multiple times temperatures are checked along that process,” Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine for the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said at a briefing at Kennedy. Cetron added, “No matter how many procedures are put into place, we can't get the risk to zero.”
The screening will be expanded over the next week to four other airports: New Jersey’s Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. Customs officials say about 150 people travel daily from or through Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the United States, and nearly 95 percent of them land first at one of the five airports. Public health workers are using no-touch thermometers to take the temperatures of the travelers from the three Ebola-ravaged countries; those who have a fever will be interviewed to determine whether they may have had contact with someone infected with Ebola. There are quarantine areas at each of the five airports that can be used if necessary.
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