Some US lawmakers are calling for a travel ban on people from West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus in the attempt to safeguard Americans from the disease. However, experts are advising against the Ebola travel ban, saying that it would make the disease harder to control in different ways.
One proponent of the Ebola travel ban is Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, where two nurses have been infected by the virus after treating a patient with Ebola. “Air travel is, in fact, how this disease crosses borders and it’s certainly how it got to Texas in the first place,” said Perry.
Experts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that the Ebola travel ban could hurt efforts to control the disease in West Africa and prevent an outbreak in the US. “When some commercial flights stop going into those countries, our people are delayed going in, our people are delayed going out… it does not enhance our ability to stop the epidemic,” said Tom Skinner, spokesman for CDC.
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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday, October 16, that President Barack Obama was not considering an Ebola travel ban. Earnest said that people traveling from West Africa have been subjected to several screenings prior to travel and upon landing in the US.
“Now, if we were to put in place a travel ban or a visa ban, it would provide a direct incentive for individuals seeking to travel to the United States to go underground and to seek to evade this screening and to not be candid about their travel history in order to enter the country,” said Earnest. He added that this would make it harder for authorities to monitor individuals who could potentially carry the disease and undermine efforts to contain the Ebola virus.
Although President Ronald Reagan prevented people with HIV/AIDS from traveling to the US in 1989, a ban that was repealed in 2009 by President Obama, the US has not yet imposed a travel ban on people from a certain country due to an epidemic.