U.S. Orders Tracing for Flyers From Two Ebola-Stricken Countries

U.S. health authorities ordered airlines to collect contact information from passengers arriving in the country who have been in Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo to help contain outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus.

The information must be collected starting Thursday and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for passengers who had been in either African nation within 21 days of arriving in the U.S. The data will help federal, state and local health departments monitor travelers for symptoms and make sure that anyone who becomes ill is quickly isolated and receives care, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

“The ability to identify and locate people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as Ebola, abroad is critical to help prevent the spread of disease within U.S. communities,” the CDC said. The information collected includes name, phone numbers, email address and physical address in the U.S.

Guinea has begun a vaccination campaign in the hopes of containing the spread of Ebola after reporting its first cases since 2016 -- the last year of an outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people across three countries.

The CDC ordered that travelers from Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo can only fly to one of six airports, in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, Los Angeles and Newark, New Jersey, so officials can focus resources and use enhanced public-health measures. More than 96% of air passengers from the countries already arrive at the designated airports, the CDC said.

Major U.S. carriers last week agreed to collect personal information from passengers flying into the U.S. as part of a stepped-up effort to trace people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. In January the U.S. began requiring proof of a negative coronavirus test before allowing visitors to fly into the country from other nations.

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