Rwanda Introduces Ebola Screening -- for Americans

Rwandan officials want to screen travelers from U.S. and Spain amid Ebola fears.

October 21, 2014, 12:31 PM

— -- In a turning of tables on Ebola monitoring, the East African nation of Rwanda is screening all visitors from the United States and Spain for the deadly virus.

The U.S. Embassy in Rwanda posted the following notice on its website today.

"On October 19, the Rwandan Ministry of Health introduced new Ebola Virus Disease screening requirements. Visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the last 22 days are now required to report their medical condition -- regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola -- by telephone by dialing 114 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the duration of their visit to Rwanda (if less than 21 days), or for the first 21 days of their visit to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities continue to deny entry to visitors who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone within the past 22 days."

The incubation period of Ebola is generally accepted by health officials as 21 days.

The notice appears to be in response to recent cases in both countries. In addition to the three people diagnosed with the deadly virus in Dallas, an additional five patients transported from West Africa have received treatment for Ebola on American soil. Spain has seen three cases, according to health officials.

"Rwanda is wasting incredible resources screening for something that doesn't exist, an American traveler with Ebola," said Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News.

Meanwhile, a rally cry to close American borders to travelers from Ebola-stricken countries appears to have hit home. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced travel restrictions today in the form of additional screening and protective measures.

Beginning Wednesday, all travelers to the Unites States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea -- the countries hardest hit by the ongoing Ebola outbreak -- will be required to fly into one of the five U.S. airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place: New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago, Homeland Security officials said.

Besser said the DHS move makes sense if you are going to do entry screening.

"Given we are doing it, this increases to 100% the travelers coming here who will get screened," Besser said.

"However, remember, entry screening would not have picked up the one traveler who has ever introduced Ebola anywhere. His symptoms did not develop until he had been here for four days," Besser said, referring to Thomas Eric Duncan.

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