Gov. Deal beefs up Ebola monitoring for travelers from West Africa

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is ramping up monitoring for all travelers coming to Georgia from Ebola-affected countries.
"We are taking every necessary precaution to ensure that Georgia stands prepared to manage the risks associated with Ebola," Deal said.
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of five airports in the U.S. that is a designated point of entry for travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"I think we have to go all the way, that's (my) opinion. We have to keep people safe,"said international traveler Musa Ghanayem.
"I have developed, in coordination with my Ebola Response Team, a policy to more aggressively monitor travelers from affected countries, symptomatic or not, and quarantine if need be. We are taking these proactive steps to protect the health of the people of our state, and this new policy is an altogether effective and appropriate response at this time," Deal said.
Previous policy for West African travelers required checking for symptoms and isolating any symptomatic passengers. In accordance with Deal's plan, travelers who show no symptoms will be placed in one of three categories for further monitoring.
Category 1, high risk – Travelers with known direct exposure to an Ebola patient. Travelers in this category will be subject to quarantine at a designated facility.
Category 2, low risk – Travelers from affected area with no known exposure to an Ebola patient. Travelers in this category will sign a monitoring agreement with the Georgia Department of Public Health. This agreement requires travelers to conduct temperature and symptom self-checks twice per day and report results to Public Health once per day (electronic, email or phone contact acceptable). Travelers who fail to report during the 21-day incubation period will be contacted by Public Health and issued a mandatory quarantine order if necessary.
Category 3 – Medical personnel actively involved in treating Ebola patients returning to the United States. Individuals in this category will be issued a 21-day active monitoring order and will be visually monitored (video communications or home visit) by Public Health twice per day. Public Health will assess for the development of symptoms and adjust restrictions as necessary. Noncompliance will result in quarantine at a state-designated facility.
Some international travelers say the procedures go too far.
"It certainly, under the constitution, is going to be an invasion of rights. But you have to weigh the safety of the masses versus the individual rights," Ghanayem said.
The governor believes it's better to be overly cautious in this case, but some believe it could deter people from volunteering to help.
"I know it's hard to get people to go there and help out if they have to sit in quarantine for that long, but we have to protect humanity," said traveler Marianne Trull.
The newly formed Georgia Ebola Response Team endorsed the governor's recommended changes.
The team will meet again on Wednesday as it continues to monitor the situation.

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