Kerry: 'We need airlines to continue to operate in West Africa'

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryHistory's lessons for Donald Trump US inaction is hurting the chance for peace in Libya Poll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters MORE on Wednesday rejected widespread calls for a flight ban between the U.S. and African nations that are battling Ebola.

Some lawmakers have been pushing for a ban on commercial airline flights between the U.S. and Ebola-stricken nations following the diagnosis of the disease in a man who flew from Liberia to Texas with a connection in Washington, D.C.


However, Kerry said Wednesday during a joint press conference with his British counterpart that it would be counterproductive to stopping the spread of Ebola to cut off flights entirely.

"We need airlines to continue to operate in West Africa," he said as he ticked off a lists of things that would be necessary to halt the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

"And we need borders to remain open," Kerry continued. "And we need to strengthen the medevac capacity. We need countries to contribute more Ebola treatment centers. And we need other African countries with the capacity to send responders to join the effort. And we need to make sure that the healthcare workers who go are properly trained, properly equipped, and supported in order to prevent additional infections."

The first man diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, died on Wednesday from complications related to the disease.

U.S. officials have thus far responded to the concerns about the potential spread of Ebola by saying only that they would increase screening for symptoms of the virus at U.S. airports popular for international arrivals, such as Washington's Dulles International Airport, where Duncan changed planes in September on his trip from Liberia to Dallas.

For his part, Kerry defended the Obama administration's handling of the first domestic cases of Ebola from critics who have argued that the president has been too slow to make changes at U.S. airports.

"President Obama has made it crystal clear that Ebola is an urgent global crisis that demands an urgent global response," Kerry said. "The United States has intensified every aspect of our engagement, and that includes providing Ebola treatment units, recruiting first responders, and supplying a critical set of medical equipment."