A passenger died on a flight from Nigeria to JFK flight after a vomiting fit Thursday. A top lawmaker said officials gave the corpse only a “cursory” exam before declaring that the victim did not have Ebola.
The unnamed 63-year-old passenger boarded an Arik Air plane Wednesday night out of Lagos, Nigeria, which has had 19 Ebola cases this year.
“The authorities conducted tests on the body and it was only a short evaluation that suggested he did not have the deadly virus, prompting concerns there are still ‘vulnerabilities’ at airports,” reports Mail Online.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) berated airports preparedness for an Ebola outbreak in a letter to Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, saying the handling of the remains exposed some serious flaws.
Between 70 and 100 passengers a day arrive at JFK from the Ebola-laden countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, King noted, with access to public restrooms and in contact with other travelers before they go through their first screening.
“Given the high volume of travelers at JFK, it is essential that extraordinary measures are taken to intercept possible Ebola-infected passengers,” King wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Customs Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske.
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“These individuals transit the airport with the rest of the traveling population, including using the restrooms,” King wrote.
“It is only after they arrive at the Customs and Border Protection primary screening location that they are separated and sent to secondary inspection for a medical check and to complete the questionnaire,” he wrote Johnson.
His letter demands Homeland Security up measures to identify potentially infected passengers during flights and at the terminal itself before reaching the screening location. King also said Port Authority police and Customs and Border Protection officials who come into contact with high-risk passengers need to be better trained and understand protocols.
"Based on what I know of this situation, I have very serious concerns about the cursory exam conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official to determine the passenger did not have Ebola, as well as the lack of instructions provided to CBP and [Port Authority] Police regarding handling the remains and the remainder of the passengers," he wrote.