Tags: Ebola Outbreak | ebola | CDC | travel | ban | screening | Frieden

Frieden: I Oppose Travel Ban on Ebola Countries

By    |   Friday, 10 Oct 2014 07:55 AM

The United States should not institute a travel ban for those arriving from West Africa because it would be infeasible, ineffective, and could unintentionally exacerbate the Ebola epidemic, said the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an opinion piece for Fox News, Dr. Thomas Frieden said that instead of effectively quarantining 22 million people from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the best way to stop the spread of the disease is to focus on isolating the sick and those in direct contract with them, and treating the problem at its source.

"The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States has caused some to call on the United States to ban travel for anyone from the countries in West Africa facing the worst of the Ebola epidemic," Frieden wrote. "A travel ban is not the right answer."

Frieden said that it's not possible to build a wall around a community, city, or country, but regardless, it could backfire by making it more difficult to respond to the outbreak.

For example, it could drive Ebola sufferers underground, making them less likely to cooperate with procedures to contain the disease. It could also cause affected countries to stop reporting cases and working with the international community for fear of being isolated or stigmatized.

And even if a travel ban is in place, people will still move between countries but will simply be more difficult to track.

"When a wildfire breaks out we don't fence it off. We go in to extinguish it before one of the random sparks sets off another outbreak somewhere else," he said.

Frieden added that isolation would escalate the spread of the disease in affected countries, increasing the risk that more cases will come to the U.S.

"To provide relief to West Africa, borders must remain open and commercial flights must continue. There is no more effective way to protect the United States against additional Ebola cases than to address this outbreak at the source in West Africa," he wrote.

Frieden explained that the best way to stop the spread of the disease is to continue the international procedure of isolating the sick and those at the highest risk of infection through direct contact with sufferers.

"This strategy worked with SARS and it worked during the H1N1 flu pandemic. Casting too wide a net, such as invoking travel bans, would only provide an illusion of security," he wrote.

"Americans can be assured we are taking measures to protect citizens here."

Frieden made note of the new screening procedures that the government announced earlier this week, which will target passengers from affected countries at five airports through which 95 percent of those citizens arrive.

"Controlling Ebola at its source — in West Africa — is how we win this battle," he said. "We know how to stop Ebola: by isolating and treating patients, tracing and monitoring their contacts, and breaking the chains of transmission.

"Until Ebola is controlled in West Africa, we cannot get the risk to zero here in the United States."

Frieden's comments came after an NBC News online survey found that 58 percent of Americans want a total ban on flights from countries that are being hardest hit by the deadly virus. The poll also found that 51 percent of Americans are afraid there will be an Ebola outbreak in the U.S., and 30 percent are worried that someone in their family would be exposed to the deadly disease.

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The United States should not institute a travel ban for those arriving from West Africa because it would be infeasible, ineffective, and could unintentionally exacerbate the Ebola epidemic, said the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ebola, CDC, travel, ban, screening, Frieden, oppose, US
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2014-55-10
Friday, 10 Oct 2014 07:55 AM
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