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Ebola outbreak in Africa prompts US travel restrictions

Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on March 4, flights carrying individuals who have been present in, or traveled from, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Republic of Guinea within 21 days of their travel to the United States must land at one of six designated airports where officials are “focusing public health resources to implement enhanced public health measures,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a notice.

The airports where the affected flights must land are John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Washington-Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, or Los Angeles International Airport.

In conjunction with the travel restrictions, the CDC issued an order requiring airlines and aircraft operators to collect eligible passengers’ contact information before boarding. The information must include the passenger’s full name, an address while in the United States, a primary and secondary contact phone number while in the United States, and an email address that the passenger will routinely check while in the United States. GA operators must submit the information using the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). Information collected about crewmembers would be transmitted by encrypted email or other CDC-approved means within 24 hours the CDC’s request.

The reporting requirements apply only to the orders stemming from the Ebola outbreak and do not modify procedures in effect in response to the coronavirus pandemic, noted AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Murray Huling.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the first known outbreak of Ebola virus disease—a severe and often fatal illness—occurred in 1976. An epidemic of the disease occurred in western Africa from 2013 to 2016. Between 2018 and 2020 there was an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the cases identified there in February are believed linked to that occurrence.

Also in February, nine cases of Ebola virus disease, including five deaths, occurred in the Republic of Guinea. The World Health Organization expects that more cases will be identified and has notified six neighboring countries to be alert for potential infections, the notice said.

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