A White House official argued that an Ebola-related travel ban for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone would hurt the effort to contain the disease because it would make it more difficult to get personnel into these countries to assist in efforts to combat the outbreak.

Asked at a White House briefing on October 3 whether the Obama administration was considering a travel ban, Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security, said of a potential travel ban: “I know that that has been something, an issue that has been raised. I taken note of Dr. [Tom] Frieden’s [director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] comments in this regard, which is to say that, in fact, right now we believe those types of steps actually impede the response.”

“They impede and slow down the ability of the United States and other international partners to actually get expertise and capabilities and equipment into the affected areas,” Monaco said.

Monaco said the most effective strategy to thwart the spread of Ebola “is to control the epidemic at its source” by getting assistance into the impacted countries to ratchet down the disease.

Half a Ban?

Asked whether “half a ban,” or barring travel from countries in the impacted region would be an answer, Monaco said the CDC has provided “training and the advice to airport officials in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.”

“And as a result of those measures, and those screening steps that have been undertaken, many, many people — dozens of people — have actually been stopped from traveling. So we those those issues — those steps actually being effective,” Monaco said.

In the latest feared incident in the U.S., CDC officials rushed to meet United Airlines flight 998 from Brussels to Newark on October 4 because a Liberian passenger became ill on the flight. After being sent to a local hospital, medical personnel determined that the passenger’s illness was unrelated to Ebola.

Photo Credit: The first reported Ebola incident in the U.S. took place in Dallas after a man flew into the country from Liberia. Pictured are travelers at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Grant Wickes / Flickr.com