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Hospitals, Newark airport preparing for Ebola

October 14, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — There have not been any cases of Ebola diagnosed or confirmed in New Jersey, but health officials are preparing for the possibility.

Newark’s Liberty International Airport will start screening passengers from three West African countries on Thursday, and hospitals have been told to test their readiness to handle the epidemic that has killed more than 4,000 people in Africa and one man in the United States.

HOSPITALS:

New Jersey hospitals are being told to test their emergency departments’ readiness to handle Ebola cases this week.

In a letter sent to the hospitals dated Oct. 10, Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd asked them to send fake patients to the hospital to see if hospital staff identifies them as potential Ebola patients and handles the cases appropriately.

Part of the purpose is to see if hospital workers can also put on protective gear correctly.

A nurse who was among 70 staffers who cared for Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan at a Dallas hospital was infected with the disease. Nina Pham has received a plasma transfusion from a doctor who beat the virus.

AIRPORT SCREENING:

Customs and health officials at Newark Liberty International Airport will take the temperatures of passengers from three West African countries starting Thursday.

Federal health officials say the entry screenings add another layer of protection to halt the spread of the Ebola virus. Screeners will use no-touch thermometers to try to find passengers with fevers.

The screenings started at New York’s Kennedy International Airport on Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that screenings will start Thursday at Newark, along with Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.

Customs officials say about 150 people travel daily from or through Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the United States. Nearly 95 percent of them land first at one of those five airports.

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