WASHINGTON, October 21 (RIA Novosti) – Washington is not considering imposing visa restrictions amid the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, deputy spokesperson for the US State Department, Marie Harf, said.
"There are no plans to suspend visa operations at this time. We can't control this epidemic through the visa process. If you end legitimate means of travel out of West Africa it could result in people's smuggling and illicit ways of people traveling, which would just make it harder for us to track sick people, to prevent them from crossing borders," Harf said at a Monday press briefing.
On Saturday, US President Barack Obama called on Americans not to "give in to hysteria or fear" over the Ebola virus. Obama stressed that the United States is not facing an epidemic, as only three cases of Ebola infection have been registered in the country.
The US president also urged against "cutting off" West Africa, where the current Ebola outbreak is raging, noting that this could actually aggravate the situation, because health workers would not be able to travel freely to the affected countries in need of urgent support.
The current Ebola 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. According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola has claimed the lives of over 4,500 people.
The virus, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, does not have an official cure, but several countries are currently working on Ebola vaccines.