Travel precautions will be imposed for individuals coming to the US from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo – two countries fighting recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.
Next week, the US government will start directing travelers from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo to six US airports, according to the CDC. Airlines will collect information from all passengers boarding flights to the US who were in either country within the previous 21 days, and share the data with the CDC and local health departments for monitoring purposes.
The measures come as the US and other nations grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, with increasing concern that variants could send rates spiking once again. It also follows two previous outbreaks of Ebola in Africa that began in 2014 and 2018, resulting in the deaths of thousands.
During the 2014 outbreak, similar travel precautions were applied. Passengers arriving at designated airports to the US from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the hardest-hit nations during the outbreak – had their temperature taken and were asked questions about whether they had been exposed to anyone with Ebola.
The CDC noted that this year’s outbreaks are in remote areas and the risk to the US is extremely low. The agency said the travel restrictions are being implemented out of an abundance of caution.
As of Thursday, the World Health Organization said there were nine Ebola cases and five deaths reported in Guinea, and eight cases and four deaths reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Guinea declared an Ebola outbreak in one of its regions earlier this month, days after the Democratic Republic of Congo declared its 12th outbreak in its history.
The Red Cross said in a statement that a network of more than 700 trained volunteers has been “activated as part of a first wave of response and the government has called on people to respect hygiene and prevention measures and to report signs of the disease to health authorities.” The World Health Organization has helped control the recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo with vaccines and is helping to procure doses for Guinea.