Woman traveling to US from Africa describes Ebola screening process

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SAN DIEGO – As the FAA begins to implement new requirements for screening overseas travelers for the Ebola virus, a San Diego businesswoman returned from Africa with concerns over how the U.S. government is handling the issue.

“There was no screening whatsoever,” said Sarah Sternberg. “I went through two different agents. They went through my luggage and everything, but as for me, there was no screening whatsoever.”

Sternberg is the co-founder and CEO of Songa Designs, a San Diego based company that makes handmade jewelry. She takes donated pieces overseas and gets them refashioned in Rwandan.   Sternberg recently traveled to Rwanda and said getting into the country was difficult.

“They are people with face masks and they point a laser at your forehead as you enter into the country,” said Sternberg. “Then, you have to fill out a really lengthy questionnaire about where you traveled from, where you’re going and what’s your destination.”

Sternberg said when she came back to U.S. last week; she was a little surprised at how easy it was to get into the country.

On the heels of Sternberg’s concern, President Obama announced Monday the US government is preparing additional measures to screen passengers in the U.S. and overseas as part of the expanding effort to contain the Ebola virus.

“We’re going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening both at the source and here in the United States,” the president said.

Obama did not specify what those measures would be. Two U.S. Health officials said they’re looking specifically at the screening for passengers arriving from Ebola-stricken African nations.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the first line of defense right now is for travelers to be screened when they attempt to leave African nations. Officials have said dozens of travelers have been stopped from boarding this way after they exhibited symptoms at these departure points.

Officials said extra screening may include asking travelers who they had contact with and fever screening.

Sternberg said in Rwanda, she has confidence officials will slow the spread of Ebola since they've taken stricter measures, however, in the United States, her confidence is less.

“You’re on a 10 hour flight with a bunch of people from other parts of Africa,” said Sarah. “You don’t know where everyone’s been, it would nice to have some sort of screening.”

2 comments

  • Duncan

    “Mr. Duncan, have you had any contact with an Ebola victim?”

    “No Mr. Obama, I swear under oath, I wouldn’t lie to you or on your questionnaire!”

    “Then welcome to Dallas, Mr. Duncan!”

  • Susan

    A new and remarkably candid on-the-ground audit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ebola crisis in Liberia said that doctors and nurses have fled hospitals in the infection zone and that obstacles to killing the virus remain.

    Won’t happen here in America, our Doctors and Nurses are ready to give up their lives gladly to help Ebola victims!

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