In late September, Thomas Eric Duncan became the first patient to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus on U.S. soil. Since then, headlines have been flooded with fears of Ebola spreading. On Monday, President Obama said, “I know that the American people are concerned about the possibility of an Ebola outbreak, and Ebola is a very serious disease. And the ability of people who are infected who could carry that across borders is something that we have to take extremely seriously. At the same time, it is important for Americans to know the facts, and that is that because of the measures that we’ve put in place, as well as our world-class health system and the nature of the Ebola virus itself — which is difficult to transmit — the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.”
To be safe, U.S. officials have called for a ban on travel from West African countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Duncan’s diagnosis on September 30th after he had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.
The President addedthat the government would develop expanded screening of airline passengers for Ebola, both in the West African countries hit by the disease and the United States. He said, “We’re also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source and here in the United States.”
On Monday, the President met with his senior health, homeland security, and national security advisors to receive an update on the Ebola case in Texas, broader domestic preparedness plans, and U.S. and international efforts to contain and end the epidemic in West Africa. The President and his team discussed the progress health officials in Texas have made in identifying and monitoring the contacts of the patient in Dallas.