Latest Updates / U.S. to Funnel Travelers From Ebola-hit Region Through 5 Airports

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An ambulance transporting an Ebola patient to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia October 15, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Latest in-depth reporting from Haaretz: As Ebola spreads: Scientists working on new drugs to treat viruses (Asaf Shtull-Trauring) | Israelis on the front lines of Ebola (Ido Efrati) | No, Ebola isn’t the ‘most severe health crisis,’ expert says (Ruth Schuster) | Why caretakers are catching Ebola: They’re making mistakes (Ruth Schuster)

Click here for Monday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

10:39 P.M. U.S. to funnel travelers from Ebola-hit region through 5 airports

The United States ratcheted up its safeguards against Ebola on Tuesday, requiring travelers from three countries at the center of an epidemic in West Africa to fly into one of five major airports conducting enhanced screening for the virus.

The restrictions on passengers whose trips originated in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea were announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and were set to go into effect on Wednesday. The precautions stop well short of the travel ban sought by some U.S. lawmakers to prevent further Ebola cases in the United States.

Affected travelers will have their temperatures checked for signs of a fever that may indicate Ebola infection, among other protocols, at New York's John F. Kennedy, New Jersey's Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago's O'Hare international airports, officials said. (Reuters)

10:05 P.M. Poll: Americans back travel ban from Ebola outbreak countries

Nearly three-fourths of Americans support a ban on civilian air travel in and out of the West African countries that have experienced an Ebola outbreak, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows, suggesting growing pressure on President Barack Obama over the issue. (Reuters)

9:57 P.M. Curfew in Sierra Leone town after rioting, shooting over Ebola case

Authorities in Sierra Leone imposed a curfew in the eastern town of Koidu on Tuesday after a dispute between youth and police over a suspected case of Ebola degenerated into gunfire and rioting, officials said.

A local civil society leader said he had seen at least two bodies with gunshot wounds. The head of the local police unit said youth had shot at officers with shotguns but denied anyone had been shot dead. (Reuters)

9:56 P.M. Dominican Republic bans entry for Ebola-affected countries

The Dominican Republic joined other countries in banning entry to foreigners who have visited Ebola-affected countries in the last 30 days, the country's Ministry of Public Health announced on Tuesday.

The Caribbean country joined several other states in the Americas, including Colombia, Jamaica, and St. Lucia, to issue travel bans. (Reuters)  

8:37 P.M. UN has praise as money starts to flow in for Ebola

The United Nations secretary-general is welcoming the cash and promises from countries in response to last week's news that a UN trust fund for Ebola had only $100,000 in the bank.

A statement by the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday thanks Australia, which has deposited $8.7 million. It also thanks Colombia, which gave the original $100,000, and Venezuela for its signed commitment of $5 million.

The fund was created as a flexible way to address immediate unfunded needs in the outbreak, which has killed more than 4,500 people, most of them in West Africa.
The trust fund is part of a nearly $1 billion UN appeal for humanitarian needs in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Tuesday's statement says Ebola "demands a massive and immediate global response." (AP)

8:15 P.M. Spanish nurse free of Ebola, final tests show

Conclusive tests show a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola is cured of the virus, doctors said Tuesday.

Four blood tests over the past four days indicated Teresa Romero's system had eliminated the virus, said Dr. Jose Ramon Arribas of Madrid's Carlos III hospital.
He added that Romeo will no longer have to be kept in isolation but will be closely monitored for after effects of the virus. (AP)

7:30 P.M. India to step up travel surveillance to stop any Ebola outbreak

India stepped up its efforts on Tuesday to prevent an outbreak of the virus, conducting mock drills at its airports and installing surveillance systems.

All international airports and sea ports in India will soon be equipped with thermal scanners - similar to Nigeria, which has been declared Ebola-free - and other detection equipment, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Peter Piot, a former WHO official who co-discovered the virus, has expressed concerns about the disease spreading to India. There are nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living in west Africa.

Like the west African countries hit, many experts say India is not adequately prepared to handle any spread of the highly infectious haemorrhagic fever. While government health services remain overburdened, many in rural areas struggle to get access to even basic health services. (Reuters)

2:43 P.M. Ebola cases rise sharply in western Sierra Leone

The number of people infected with Ebola in western Sierra Leone, on the other side of the country from where the first cases emerged months ago, is soaring with more than 20 deaths daily, the government and local media reported Tuesday.

New confirmed cases of Ebola that emerged Monday in two Ebola zones in and around the capital Freetown numbered 49, the National Ebola Response Center reported Tuesday. There are 851 total confirmed cases in the two zones, called Western Area Urban and Western Area Rural, the center said. But there were no new cases in the eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun, which previously had been an epicenter of the outbreak. There was no immediate official explanation of what has caused the drop in reported new cases there. (AP)

2:35 P.M. Ebola vaccine trials to begin in West Africa in January, WHO says

A top World Health Organization official says the hunt for an Ebola vaccine will produce data about whether they are safe by December — and they could be in experimental field use by January.

Dr Marie Paule Kieny, an assistant director general for WHO, says clinical trials planned or underway in Europe, Africa and the U.S. are being accompanied by a push among governments for immediate "real-world use" of an approved Ebola vaccine.

She told reporters Tuesday in Geneva that, if the vaccines are deemed safe, tens of thousands of doses would be used in a West African trial in January.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib also promises a thorough public audit of the agency's early missteps in responding to the Ebola outbreak that has already killed over 4,500 people. (AP)

8:53 A.M. U.S. issues new wardrobe guidelines for Ebola healthcare workers

Federal health officials on Monday issued new guidelines to promote head-to-toe protection for health workers treating Ebola patients.

Officials have been scrambling to come up with new advice since two Dallas nurses became infected while caring for the first person diagnosed with the virus in the United States.

The new guidelines set a firmer standard, calling for full-body garb and hoods that protect worker's necks; setting rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of gloved hands; and calling for a "site manager" to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment.

They also say health workers who may be involved in an Ebola patient's care should repeatedly practice and demonstrate proficiency in donning and removing gear — before ever being allowed near a patient.

And they ask hospitals to establish designated areas for putting on and taking off equipment, whether it's a room adjacent to an Ebola patient's room or a hallway area cordoned off with a plastic sheet. (AP)

2:26 A.M. U.S. CDC calls for better training with protective gear in new Ebola guidelines

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday it has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola that require better training in taking off and putting on protective suits.

The CDC also said that no skin can be exposed by workers taking care of a person infected with Ebola and that supervisors need to monitor workers as they put on protective suits and take them off. (Reuters) 

12:44 A.M. Ebola patient released from Atlanta hospital

An Ebola patient who's been treated in Atlanta since early September has been released, hospital officials said Monday.

The man was released Sunday from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, after he was determined to be free of the virus and no threat to the public.

He was transported to the hospital on September 9 after arriving in Atlanta on a jet. The World Health Organization disclosed that a doctor who had been working in an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone had been evacuated out of Africa when he tested positive for the disease.

Emory is one of four U.S. hospitals with specialized treatment units for people with highly dangerous infectious diseases. The others are in Maryland, Nebraska and Montana.

The unidentified patient's time at Emory — nearly six weeks — is perhaps the longest stay of an Ebola patient at a U.S. hospital. None of the seven others was admitted for more than 3 ½ weeks. (AP) 

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