October 2014 – AFRICA – CDC Director Tom Frieden on Friday said restricting travel between the U.S. and West Africa would likely “backfire” and put Americans more at risk of contracting Ebola. Appearing on MSNBC, Frieden was asked about potentially prohibiting air travel between the U.S. and West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak is most widespread. He said that such a restriction would likely be ineffective and would make it harder for health officials to root out the virus. “The only way we’re going to get to zero risk is by stopping the outbreak at the source” in West Africa, Frieden said. “Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn’t work,” the top health official added. “People have a right to return. People transiting through could come in. And it would backfire, because by isolating these countries, it’ll make it harder to help them, it will spread more there and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.” Frieden’s comments come as health officials continue to screen up to 100 people in Texas in connection with Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Duncan flew to the U.S. on September 19, but the CDC said that he was screened before his flight in Monrovia and showed no symptoms of Ebola. Health officials say his temperature was 97.3 degrees and that he was not contagious on the flight, meaning his fellow passengers were not at risk. While in Liberia, Duncan had contact with a woman who had the virus and carried her from a taxi, according to The New York Times. On Friday, Frieden said that airport screenings are reducing risks. “There are a lot of checks in place. It’s not perfect,” he said. In several interviews, including at a Thursday news briefing, the CDC director has expressed confidence that the health officials will be able to contain the spread of the virus in the U.S. On Thursday evening, NBC announced that a freelance journalist working in Liberia had contracted Ebola and quarantined himself on Wednesday. –Politico