Obama: Travel ban ‘not the best way to go’

Obama: Travel ban ‘not the best way to go’
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President Obama said Thursday that cutting off flights to African countries that are battling Ebola is “not the best way to go,” despite increasing pressure from Congress for a commercial travel ban. 

"I don't have a philosophical objection necessarily to a travel ban if that is the thing that is going to keep Americans safe," Obama said after a meeting of his Ebola response team on Wednesday evening. 

“The problem is in all the discussions I’ve had those far with experts in the field ... is that a travel ban is less effective than the measures that we are currently instituting,” he continued. 

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Nearly 70 lawmakers have gone on record saying they support some form of an Ebola flight ban, according to a whip count that has been compiled by The Hill. 

Obama said he was not relenting to the mounting pressure because a total ban on travel between the U.S. and West Africa would make it more difficult to track the movements of potential victims of the virus.

“If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we’ve put in place now, history shows that there is a likelihood of increased avoidance,” he said. “People do not readily disclose their information. They might engage in something called broken travel, essentially breaking up their trip so that they can hide the fact that they have been to one of these countries where there is a disease in place. 

“As a result, we may end up getting less information about who has the disease, they’re less likely to get treated properly ... and as a consequence, we could end up having more cases rather than less,” he continued.

Obama said he will only relent on not banning flights to Africa if health officials told him that was the most effective way to prevent an outbreak of the deadly disease in the U.S. 

“I continue to push and ask our experts whether in fact we are doing what’s adequate in order to protect the American people,” he said. “If they come back to me and they say there are some additional things that we need to do, I assure you we will.” 

However, he quickly added “but it is important in these circumstances for us to look at the history of how these infectious diseases are best dealt with and it is currently the judgment of all those who have been involved that a flat out travel ban is not the best way to go.”