US steps up Ebola vigil, but won't stop travel to Africa
The US on Wednesday announced new steps to counter Ebola as concerns mounted about new infections, but it resisted growing demand for ban on travel to and from west Africa.world Updated: Oct 16, 2014 15:47 IST
The US on Wednesday announced new steps to counter Ebola as concerns mounted about new infections, but it resisted growing demand for ban on travel to and from west Africa.
No country has stopped travel to the three west African nations hit the hardest by the outbreak — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — described as the worst since AIDS.
If the US does, as demanded mostly by conservative critics of the president, it could, experts fear, trigger a worldwide boycott that will be even more devastating for those countries.
President Barack Obama ordered, instead, a significantly marked up first response to every fresh case, in a direct message to health authorities who botched their first case.
Duncan E Smith, the Liberian man who became the first person to die of Ebola in the US, was turned away by the same hospital when he first reported sick with linked symptoms.
As soon as someone is diagnosed with Ebola, President Barack Obama said, CDC — the top US agency for fighting such emergencies — will respond with all it has.
“We want a rapid response team, a SWAT team, essentially, from the CDC to be on the ground as quickly as possible -- hopefully within 24 hours,” said the president.
Speaking after a meeting on the government’s response to the outbreak, Obama tried to reassure a worried nation that, one, the situation was not as bad as it appeared.
“I shook hands with, hugged, and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients,” Obama said,
He survived, and was doing fine.
And, two, if the US did everything by the book, according to laid procedures, the “likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low”.
The president’s conservative critics, however, believe not enough is being done to combat the disease. Why can’t the administration strike at the very root of the problem.
“Common sense dictates that we should impose a travel ban on commercial airline flights from nations afflicted by Ebola,” Texas senator Ted Cruz told Dallas News.
The CDC has opposed that drastic measure.
A ban would leave uninfected people at risk of exposure from patients driven underground (by the ban), argued CDC chief Tom Frieden in a piece on Fox News.
Read: Ebola the 'most serious' health emergency in years, say world leaders