At a Congressional hearing in Washington Thursday, lawmakers criticized the Obama administration’s response to Ebola in the United States and urged a travel ban from epidemic-stricken West Africa.
A day after a second nurse was found to test positive after treating a patient in Dallas who later died, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Thomas Frieden, defended the government’s response, and offered assurances that Americans are safe and that there will be no widespread Ebola outbreak in the country.
“There’s zero doubt in my mind that barring a mutation which changes it —which we don’t think is likely — there will not be a large outbreak in the US,” the Associated Press quoted Frieden as telling members of the Energy and Commerce Committee at a specially convened hearing. “We know how to control Ebola, even in this period.”
But it wasn’t enough to quiet lawmakers’ concerns as they reported growing fears from their constituents in the wake of news that one of the nurses had been cleared by the CDC to travel on a commercial plane even after registering a slightly elevated fever, the report said.
Some schools were closed in Ohio and Texas amid fears that students or staff may have had contact with the nurse.
“People are scared,” said Fred Upton, the panel’s chairman. “People’s lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable.”
Upton and other Republicans said the administration should ban travel from the hardest hit nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and quarantine US citizens arriving from there.
Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta told reporters separately that the US is assessing whether to issue a travel ban “on a day-to-day basis” but that the CDC had determined that a ban would not address the challenges posed by Ebola.
Ebola has killed nearly 4,500 people in West Africa, predominantly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, since March.
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