The White House said Wednesday it will not impose travel restrictions or introduce new airport screenings to prevent additional cases of Ebola from entering the United States.
Spokesman Josh Earnest said that current anti-Ebola measures, which include screenings in West African airports and observation of passengers in the United States, will be sufficient to prevent the “wide spread” of the virus.
“The reason for that is that it is not possible to transmit Ebola through the air. ... The only way that an individual can contract Ebola is by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is exhibiting symptoms.”
The comments were made after federal health officials confirmed that a man with Ebola traveled to the United States from Liberia on Sept. 20. He is now being treated in isolation in a Dallas hospital as public health workers trace his contacts.
Earnest said President Obama has “strong confidence” in the man's medical care and the measures currently in place to prevent Ebola's spread.
“We've provided guidance to pilots, flight attendants and others who are responsible for staffing our transportation infrastructure to ensure that if they notice individuals who are exhibiting symptoms ... that the proper authorities are notified,” Earnest said.
“In light of this incident, the administration has taken the step of re-circulating our guidance ... to make sure people are aware there is an important protocol that should be implemented.”
It is difficult to spot Ebola cases unless the person is already exhibiting symptoms, such as fever, vomiting or reddened eyes.
West African countries are screening travelers for elevated temperatures, but it is possible to be infected and not show signs for several weeks.