While the world is still grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, another threat has started to emerge again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday that it's taking swift action to prevent the spread of the recent Ebola outbreak in two African countries by implementing new travel restrictions.
Starting this week, visitors from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — both of which have had a rise in Ebola — must arrive in the U.S. through six designated airports. Though the CDC did not specify the airports in the statement, they did say that the airlines will collect information from all passengers who were in the countries in the last 21 days and send it to the CDC. The data will then be verified and shared with state and local health officials to monitor.
The department also specified that the measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution. "The outbreaks are centered in remote areas of these countries," the statement read. "The risk of Ebola to the United States is extremely low. The Biden administration is committed to working closely with the affected countries to end these outbreaks before they grow into epidemics." But the CDC's release also notes that air travel has the potential to spread communicable diseases anywhere in the world in 24 hours.
Since the Ebola resurgence last month, 11 cases have been confirmed in the DRC and 17 in Guinea, Reuters reported today. The outbreaks from the two countries are considered to be separate.
First discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in an area that is now part of the DRC, the deadly disease is spread through direct contact, usually via blood or body fluids of someone who is sick or has died of Ebola, the CDC describes. During the epidemic that lasted from 2018 to 2020, more than 2,200 people died before it was officially declared over last June, Reuters reported, adding that the current cases represent a "flare-up" of that outbreak.
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