US President Barack Obama has opposed yesterday a sanction on all West African travellers to the US, emphasising that he is considering employing an Ebola “czar” to co-ordinate the fight against the spread of the virus.
Currently, Obama’s government is under growing blame from civil organisations and opposition party over its efforts to contain the disease at home.
Obama authorised calling up military reservists for the US fight against Ebola in West Africa on Thursday.
US concerns have intensified after two Texas nurses who cared for a dying Liberian patient contracted the virus that has killed nearly 4 500 people. Spain is also grappling with the spread of the disease, with four new patients with suspected Ebola symptoms admitted to hospitals.
The disease continues to spread in West Africa where outbreak began in March and is now in the last district in Sierra Leone that had been unaffected by Ebola.
US lawmakers held a congressional hearing on Thursday about the administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in the United States and some have called for a czar and a ban on travel from West Africa.
“It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person” to oversee efforts to contain Ebola, Obama told reporters after meeting aides involved in the fight against the disease.
Obama said experts tell him that “a flat-out travel ban is not the way to go” because current screening measures at airports are working.
He said he had no philosophical objection to a travel ban but that some travellers might attempt to enter the United States by avoiding screening measures, which could lead to more Ebola cases, not less, Obama said.
Jamaica announced an immediate travel ban on Thursday and South America’s Guyana said it has denied entry to citizens from four Ebola-hit West African nations for the past five weeks.
US Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta told reporters separately that the government was assessing whether to issue a travel ban “on a day-to-day basis”.
News that one of the Dallas nurses, Amber Vinson, travelled aboard a commercial airliner while running a slight fever ratcheted up public health concerns on Wednesday. It prompted several schools in Ohio and Texas to close because people with ties to the schools may have shared the flight with Vinson.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it would take over the care of the first Texas nurse diagnosed with Ebola, Nina Pham. She contracted the virus while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, who later died.