CDC Director Details U.S. Efforts to Contain Ebola ‘At the Source’ With Airport Screening (Video)
Posted at 5:27 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2014
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, told a House hearing Thursday that his agency has deployed teams who are working with officials in four African countries hit by the Ebola pandemic to help them screen departing passengers at the nations’ airports.
The four affected countries are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“We can stop Ebola” and “we have to stop it at the source in Africa,” Frieden told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.
He said the procedures to be used at airports include “questions to be asked” and “lists to be cross-matched of known patients and known contacts.”
He added that “all of those procedures take time to set up, but we do have teams working on them now.”
Frieden said, “If someone became ill on the plane and was having fever or started bleeding, then for example that might present a risk for those who came in contact with that and didn’t take appropriate precautions.”
“We have provided very detailed advice to the airlines,” Frieden said, on how to handle potential Ebola-infected passengers.
Another subcommittee witness, Ken Isaacs, former director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said the international response to the Ebola outbreak has been a failure.
Isaacs, who is now vice president at Samaritan’s Purse, an aid group working in Liberia, said the African governments are overwhelmed by the Ebola epidemic and not capable of containing it.
Nonetheless, he said “The public health of the world is in their hands.”
According to the World Health Organization, as of Monday, the cumulative number of cases attributed to Ebola in the four African countries stood at 1,711, including 932 deaths. The largest number of confirmed deaths caused by Ebola has been in Sierra Leone, with 247 as of Monday. Isaacs told the subcommittee that he thought the WHO figures understate the actual incidence of Ebola by 25 percent to 50 percent.