WASHINGTON, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - In his weekly address to the nation Saturday, US President Barack Obama called for US citizens not to ‘give in to hysteria or fear’ over the Ebola virus disease.
“This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear, because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts,” Obama said.
The president stated that the United States is not facing an epidemic, as only three cases of Ebola infection have been registered in the country. “As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu,” he added.
Obama also noted that Ebola is a difficult disease to catch, as it is not airborne. “I have met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who have treated Ebola patients, I have met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office, and I'm fine,” he said.
The US leader also urged against “cutting off" West Africa, where the current Ebola outbreak is raging. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.”
The United States may see more “isolated cases” of Ebola virus infection before the epidemic is brought under control, Obama said, noting that US experts “know to wage this fight”. The United States are to continue taking part in the international response to the Ebola epidemic, the president concluded.
West Africa is currently facing the worst Ebola outbreak in history, which so far has claimed the lives of over 4,500 people, according to the latest WHO estimates. The outbreak began in southern Guinea in February and later spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal, with several Ebola cases having been reported outside of West Africa.
On October 8, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to test positive for the Ebola virus in the United States, passed away in Texas. Two of the nurses who treated Duncan were later diagnosed with the virus.