WASHINGTON, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Imposing a travel ban in the United States against individuals from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, most affected by the Ebola epidemic, could result in greater risks to American health security, Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Thomas Frieden said Thursday.
"Right now we know who's coming in. If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from places we don't know they're coming in [from], will mean we won't be able to do multiple things," Frieden told members of Congress during a Thursday House joint committee hearing on the spread of Ebola.
He explained that if a travel ban were implemented, "there is a high likelihood that they will find other ways to get here." Under those conditions, he said, "We won't be able to check them for fever when they leave, we won't be able to check them for fever when they arrive. We won't be able ... to take a detailed history to see if they were exposed when they arrive. When they arrive we wouldn't be able to propose quarantine as we now can if they had high risk contact."
Frieden outlined these measures when responding to Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who stated that the Obama administration should take action to ban travel from the three West African nations. Upton proposed "travel restrictions from that region beginning today" to prevent the spread of the disease, insisting that Ebola "needs to be solved in Africa, but until it is, we shouldn't be allowing these folks in, period."
"Right now we know who's coming in," Frieden added, noting that in West Africa, "borders can be porous" making tracing travel very difficult.
Currently, the United States has measures in place to increase screening of individuals coming from the affected countries. According to the Department of Homeland Security, approximately 150 people fly from the three West African countries into the United States every day and approximately 94 percent of those are screened through advanced measures implemented at five major airports.