US-bound passengers from Uganda to be screened for Ebola

A WHO official in regional Uganda during Ebola outbreak.
Photo Credit: WHO Uganda

LONDON – With reported Ebola cases now rising dramatically in Uganda, US-bound passengers from the East African nation are now to be screened for Ebola.

The United States Biden administration has now announced the proposal to screen US-bound travelers from Uganda if they have been in the country within the three weeks prior to their arrival in the US.

US Department of State heath alert logo - Ebola in Uganda

The US Embassy in Kampala has issued the following statement:

As of October 6, at 11:59 p.m. ET, all U.S.-bound passengers who have been in Uganda in the 21 days prior to their arrival will be routed to one of the following designated airports: New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), or Washington (IAD) for enhanced screening. 

Out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will apply new layers of screening at these five U.S. airports in response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda.  

To date in this outbreak, cases have only been confirmed in Uganda and no suspected, probable, or confirmed cases of Ebola have been reported in the United States, and the risk of Ebola domestically is currently low.  

The enhanced screening applies to all passengers, including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and visa holders (to include Diplomatic and Official visas). 

Restricted ports of entry

The Biden administration has reported that approximately 145 people enter the US from Uganda each day, with most arriving at one of the five major airports nominated by the US Embassy in their statement.

For travellers who were scheduled to enter via another airport, airlines will rebook those tickets, the administration stated.

Presently battling the Ebola outbreak, the East African nation has recorded 29 deaths so far including 4 health workers, with a further 63 confirmed and probable cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Although the outbreak has been centered around five central Uganda districts, the deadly virus has not reached the main travel centre of Entebbe as yet. There are no reported cases of Ebola in the US at present.

The current outbreak in Uganda has been characterized as ‘very serious’ and has been attributed to the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus. There is no proven vaccine for this strain.

Vaccines used to curb recent outbreaks in the neighboring nation Democratic Republic of Congo were not effective against the Sudan variant.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has advised that Uganda will be hosting a ministerial meeting next week with neighbouring states and other African countries that had experienced Ebola outbreaks in order to explore possible ways of managing such incidents.

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