U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Monday that his administration is preparing additional measures to screen airline passengers flying from West Africa to the U.S. as part of Washington's 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 after meeting at the White House with top health and security officials about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Obama did not specify what exactly those measures would be, but said the likelihood of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is "extremely low", however he said "we don't have a lot of margin of error."
The Obama administration has deployed more than 100 medical professionals and is planning to send as many as 4,000 troops to help contain the outbreak in West Africa, while border agents and flight attendants are receiving training materials on how to spot potential infected travelers.
Obama's statements came a week after Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan contracted the disease in his home country, becoming the first case of Ebola diagnosed on U.S. soil. He is in a critical condition in a hospital isolation unit in Dallas.
Meanwhile, a U.S. freelance cameraman who also contracted Ebola in Liberia was taken to a hospital in the Midwestern state of Nebraska on Monday, becoming the fifth case in the United States.
Referring to the global fear emerged after this outbreak, Obama said the U.S. government would push to ensure medical professionals responded appropriately if they came in contact with a patient with Ebola-like symptoms.
The recently Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 3,400 people out of a total of 7,178 officially registered cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Ebola virus is a form of hemorrhagic fever with immediate symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding, and it remains one of the world's most virulent diseases.
The virus spreads through direct contact with feces or sweat and infected blood, and it can also be transmitted through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
Ebola was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 in an outbreak that killed at least 280 people, while recently the WHO has called the spread that began in April as the worst since then.
The outbreak began in Guinea, ravaging neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia, which is presently the most affected country.