NEW YORK -- Passengers returning to the U.S. from West Africa and arriving at three New York-area airports will be now required to be quarantined for 21 days if they are determined to be at high risk of having the Ebola virus.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced the new policy at a press conference Friday afternoon, a day after Dr. Craig Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, became New York City's first Ebola patient.
"We believe it's appropriate to increase the current screening procedures from people coming from affected countries from the current (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention screening procedures)," Cuomo said, according to CBS New York. "We believe it within the State of New York and the State of New Jersey's legal rights."
Under the new rules, state officials will establish a risk level by considering the countries that people have visited and their level of possible exposure to Ebola.
The patients with the highest level of possible exposure will be automatically quarantined for 21 days at a government-regulated facility. Those with a lower risk will be monitored for temperature and symptoms, Cuomo explained.
According to a statement the governors' offices released, "There will also be a mandatory quarantine for any individual who had direct contact with an individual infected with the Ebola virus while in one of the three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea), including any medical personnel having performed medical services to individuals infected with the Ebola virus."
"We tried voluntary quarantine once, and we saw how that went," Christie said. "The stakes are too high."
The new procedures already have been put into use at Newark Liberty International Airport.
On Friday, a health care worker landed at Newark after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, Christie said. A legal quarantine was issued for the woman, who was not a New Jersey resident and was set to go on to New York afterward.
"This woman, while her home residence is outside the area, said her next stop was going to be here in New York," Christie said. "Gov. Cuomo and I discussed it before we came out here, and a quarantine order will be issued."
The woman will be quarantined in either New York or New Jersey, Christie said.