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Public Health (15-12-2014)

Ebola: Review of exit screening procedures at international airports in affected countries

Following the World Health Organisation’s recommendation, exit screening of travellers leaving the Ebola affected countries was put in place in August, to reduce the risk of spread of Ebola. These exit screening procedures have been implemented at the airports of the affected countries with support from the US Centre of Disease Control (CDC).

Between 19 and 23 November 2014, the Commission, in partnership with the WHO, organised a review visit to the airports of the affected countries. The aim of the visit was to give assurance on actual compliance with the existing exit screening guidelines, the effectiveness of their design and their level of implementation.

The evaluation team was composed of eight participants from the European Commission, WHO-Euro, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and four EU Member States. On-site support was provided by the authorities in the West African countries, the EU delegations in the region, WHO and US CDC staff.

The evaluation team found a very high level of implementation of the guidelines in all three airports, and assessed the probability of a passenger boarding a plane without having been screened as close to nil. The team concluded that the measures in place are likely to detect travellers with fever and to prevent persons with symptoms consistent with Ebola virus disease (EVD) from boarding a plane.

However, the evaluation team also expressed concerns about the long term sustainability and long term planning of resources, which will need further support. A summary report (FR version) was presented to the Health Security Committee, the Ebola Task Force and to the EPSCO Council at the beginning of December, and a full technical report is currently under development.