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Travel Ban is No Answer in Ebola Crisis


U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers perform enhanced passenger screening of an international traveler, who recently visited Guinea, at Atlanta's International Airport Oct. 16, 2014.

Amid concern by many in the United States over the possible spread of Ebola fever, government officials have begun limiting flights carrying passengers from three West African nations to arrival at five U.S. airports.

Amid concern by many in the United States over the possible spread of Ebola fever, government officials have begun limiting flights carrying passengers from three West African nations to arrival at five U.S. airports.

The decision, announced October 21, represents only a slight change in flight traffic from those countries most affected by the disease, -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea –- because most travelers from there already land at the five designated airports, where heightened Ebola screening procedures, such as passenger temperature readings to detect fevers, are now in place.

We believe stricter restrictions such as the outright banning of travel from those or other affected nations would be counter-productive, if not harmful.

The United States is taking such steps to closely monitor travelers because we believe stricter restrictions such as the outright banning of travel from those or other affected nations would be counter-productive, if not harmful.

Health experts and others believe that the Ebola epidemic can’t be controlled by travel or visa bans. President Obama addressed the issue in his weekly radio address on October 18:

"We can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging…. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world -- if that were even possible -- could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track. "

When balanced against the need to remain engaged with the nations and peoples of West Africa in confronting the Ebola crisis, the United States firmly believes that while taking necessary precautions, it is important to continue international travel to the affected countries to help end the Ebola epidemic.

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