Airlines told they can deny boarding to people with Ebola symptoms

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told airlines they can deny boarding to passengers who are exhibiting symptoms of the Ebola virus. 

In guidelines issued by the CDC, the health body also says airlines should separate infected passengers who display signs of the virus during flights from other flyers. 

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“People who have been exposed to Ebola virus disease should not travel on commercial airplanes until there is a period of monitoring for symptoms of illness lasting 21 days after exposure,” the CDC said. “Sick travelers should delay travel until cleared to travel by a doctor or public health authority. Airlines should consider using their own authority … to deny boarding of sick travelers if Ebola is suspected.” 

A U.S. citizen who was infected after an outbreak of the disease in West Africa is being treated with the disease this week in Atlanta, where the CDC is based. Another U.S. resident who was diagnosed with the disease has also been transported back for treatment. 

The Ebola virus is transmitted by bodily fluids. The CDC told airlines that there are steps flight crews can take if a passenger exhibits symptoms after takeoff as a precaution. 

“Crew members on a flight with a passenger or other crew member who is ill with a fever, jaundice, or bleeding and who is traveling from or has recently been in a risk area should follow these precautions,” the agency said. 

“Keep the sick person separated from others as much as possible; Provide the sick person with a surgical mask (if the sick person can tolerate wearing one) to reduce the number of droplets expelled into the air by talking, sneezing, or coughing; Give tissues to a sick person who cannot tolerate a mask. Provide a plastic bag for disposing of used tissues. Wear impermeable disposable gloves for direct contact with blood or other body fluids.” 

The CDC added in its warning that “airplanes traveling to countries affected with Ebola should carry Universal Precaution Kits, as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization.” 

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 700 lives in recent weeks.

The Obama administration is hosting a U.S-Africa summit in Washington, D.C., this week that will bring dozens of officials to the nation’s capitol. The event has sparked worries about the Ebola virus spreading further in the U.S.