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Obama Says U.S. Will Beef Up Airport Screenings For Ebola After First Case Outside Africa

The president made the announcement after a nurse in Madrid was confirmed to be the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa since the beginning of the outbreak.

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President Obama said Monday the U.S. plans to ramp up passenger screenings at airports in an expanding effort to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The announcement came after the president met with top health and security officials at the White House.

"We have learned some lessons, though, in terms of what happened in Dallas," Obama said about Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who was mistakenly sent home last week from a Texas hospital.

"We don’t have a lot of margin for error," the president continued. "The procedures and protocols that are put in place must be followed. One of the things that we discussed today was how we could make sure that we’re spreading the word across hospitals, clinics, any place where a patient might first come in contact with a medical worker to make sure that they know what to look out for, and they’re putting in place the protocols and following those protocols strictly."

A White House spokesman said Monday it is not currently considering a travel ban from West Africa in order to contain the outbreak, but Obama said new health screenings would be coming to airports.

"We’re also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source and here in the United States," the president said without further elaborating. "All of these things make me confident that here in the United States, at least, the chances of an outbreak, of an epidemic here are extraordinarily low."

All of the 48 people being evaluated daily after coming in contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan have shown no signs of the illness, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday.

Jim Young / Reuters

A person who was in the apartment unit where Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with the Ebola virus

A "Hundred percent" of people being monitored daily, including 10 high-risk individuals, have shown no fever or signs of the Ebola virus, Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a press briefing on Monday. He said all of them are doing well so far.

"The great news from me is that we've got zero symptoms out there," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. "That's a good sign."

Rawlings said that workers finished the second phase of cleaning Duncan's apartment at noon. His personal items were destroyed over the weekend and a drum of all other items was being taken away after the clean up. He said that some of Duncan's belongings, such as a his grandmother's bible and family photos, were saved.

Lakey said that "a lot people in Dallas are scared," but reiterated that the spread of the disease was under control.

Dallas Councilwoman Jennifer Gates said the residents of the Vickery Meadow community, where Duncan lived, were afraid of being stigmatized as the "epicenter of the crisis." She said the people in the area were feeling discriminated against and some were turned away from jobs and retail stores.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of an experimental anti-viral drug called brincidofovir, produced by biopharmacy company Chimerix.

"Mr. Duncan remains in critical condition," said Candace White, spokeswoman for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. "His condition is stable. He is now receiving the investigational medication brincidofovir."

A Spanish nurse who treated an Ebola patient in Madrid tested positive for the virus in the first known transmission of the disease outside West Africa, the Associated Press reported.

The nurse is believed to have contracted the virus from a 69-year-old Spanish priest who died in a Madrid hospital after being transported from Sierra Leone, Spain's health minister said Monday. The nurse was part of the medical team that treated the priest who was infected with Ebola.

The World Health Organization confirmed that this was the first transmission of Ebola outside West Africa since the outbreak began in March.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

Jon Passantino is a deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jon Passantino at jonathan.passantino@buzzfeed.com.

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