US President Barack Obama has defended the government’s new directives regarding monitoring of people who have been exposed to the Ebola virus, asking the public not to let themselves be influenced by “fear”, since progress is being made in halting the spread of the disease.
If there was not a strong international respnse to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the US and many other nations could be in danger, Obama warned in a brief public appearance at the White House before traveling to Wisconsin.
He also said that American officials should not “just react based on our fears” by imposing policies that discourage more health workers from volunteering to travel to the region most affected by the Ebola epidemic.
Obama said that the “good news” was that Liberia, one of the countries most affected by the outbreak of the virus, along with Guinea and Sierra Leone, was beginning to see “some advances” in containing the spread of the disease.
He also said — alluding to the obligatory quarantines imposed in several states, including New York and New Jersey, on healthcare workers returning from the Ebola-affected countries — that measures that “discourage” people from traveling to Africa to combat the disease should be avoided.
Obama defended the new protocols announced Monday by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, because they were based on “science” and on previous “experience” treating Ebola.
Among the measures announced by the CDC, people who have travelled to West Africa and had contact with Ebola victims would not be quarantined or have their movements restricted unless they show symptoms of the disease.
The president noted that so far only two people have become infected with Ebola in the US — Dallas hospital nurses Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, who cared for a Liberian man who had picked up the disease in West Africa and later died.
Both nurses have been declared free of the virus after undergoing hospital treatment, along with seven other Americans who have been treated and have survived, Obama said.
“This disease can be contained,” Obama said. “It will be defeated. Progress is possible. But we’re going to have to stay vigilant, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re working together.”