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Obama considers appointing an ‘Ebola Czar’ as he says he has no ‘philosophical objection’ to banning travelers from West Africa

  • The president spoke from the White House today after holding a meeting on the Ebola outbreak
  • He announced it ‘may be appropriate’ to appoint a so-called Ebola ‘czar’ to head up his administrations’ response to the health crisis 
  • Mr Obama also said he had no ‘philosophical objection’ to instating a travel ban on travelers from West Africa – but that he doesn’t think it will work
  • The president says instating a travel ban would make the problem worse, since it could lead to West Africans lying in order to get into the country

By

Reuters


Published:
19:06 EST, 16 October 2014

|
Updated:
19:40 EST, 16 October 2014

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President Barack Obama said
on Thursday he is considering appointing an Ebola ‘czar’ as the
lead U.S. coordinator in the effort to contain the virus and
that he remains opposed to a ban on travel from West Africa.

Obama met in the Oval Office with aides who are involved in
the Ebola fight and spoke to reporters afterward. 

He said ‘it
may be appropriate’ at some stage to put one person in charge of
the effort. Some lawmakers, such as Republican Senator John
McCain, have been urging him to take this step. 

Ebola update: President Barack Obama spoke about the government's response to Ebola from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday

Ebola update: President Barack Obama spoke about the government’s response to Ebola from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday

Gesturing to top aides who are leading various aspects of the Ebola fight like Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, national security adviser Susan Rice and Centers for Disease Control director Tom Frieden, Obama said they have many other duties in addition to Ebola. 

‘It’s not that they haven’t been doing an outstanding job
working hard on this issue, but they’re also responsible for a
whole lot of other stuff,’ he said.

Obama resisted pressure from lawmakers to impose a ban on
travel from West Africa. He said experts tell him that ‘a
flat-out travel ban is not the way to go’ because a ban would be
less effective than current screening measures on travelers to
the United States from the region.

‘I don’t have a philosophical objection necessarily to a
travel ban if that is the thing that is going to keep the
American people safe,’ he said.

But he noted that some travelers might attempt to enter the
United States under the radar and would avoid the screening
measures, leading possibly to more rather than fewer Ebola
cases.

Time to appoint a leader: President Obama said it 'may be appropriate' to appoint a so-called Ebola 'czar' to head his administration's response to the outbreak in America. Pictured above in the Oval Office with Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Lisa Monaco (far left), U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell (second left) and Dr Thomas Frieden (far right), director of the CDC

Time to appoint a leader: President Obama said it ‘may be appropriate’ to appoint a so-called Ebola ‘czar’ to head his administration’s response to the outbreak in America. Pictured above in the Oval Office with Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Lisa Monaco (far left), U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell (second left) and Dr Thomas Frieden (far right), director of the CDC

Obama said he had spoken to Ohio Governor John Kasich and
Texas Governor Rick Perry to make sure their healthcare workers
are getting the training and equipment they need for any Ebola
cases.

He said anyone who came into contact with a Dallas nurse who
flew on a commercial plane from Cleveland to Dallas a day before
experiencing symptoms will need to be monitored.

But he stressed Americans should not overreact to what has
been a limited Ebola outbreak. He said the virus remains hard to
contract and is not airborne.

‘It remains a very difficult disease to catch and if we
continue to take the steps we need to, this will be contained,’
he said. ‘The main thing everybody needs to focus on is the
risks involved remain relatively low, extremely low, for
ordinary folks.’

Obama, who has expressed frustration at the slow trickle of
international aid to West Africa, said he had seen some
improvement in the flow to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but
that much more is needed.

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