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President Barack Obama, facing mounting public pressure to head off any chance of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S., said his administration will tighten screening protocols for airline passengers.
Health officials have “learned lessons” from the first diagnosed case in the U.S. the chances of its spread here is “extremely rare,” Obama said after getting briefed on Ebola by his national security team and Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obama, speaking at the White House, didn’t give any details about additional screening of travelers destined for the U.S. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier today that officials aren’t currently considering a ban passengers from West Africa, as some U.S. lawmakers have urged.
The president also said he’ll pressure other nations to take action to stem the spread of Ebola in West Africa, saying they can’t “sit on the sidelines” and assume the U.S. will take care of the situation.
A Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived in Dallas became the first confirmed Ebola case in the U.S. That prompted some members of Congress to press for tougher checks at the border.
Earnest said airline crews are getting more training to spot and handle someone who may have Ebola-like symptoms.
The viral illness has killed more than 3,400 people in Africa, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Duncan is listed in critical condition. His diagnosis markes the first time Ebola has been inadvertently carried out of Africa in the almost 40 years since it was discovered. A Spanish nurse also has been diagnosed with the virus at a Madrid hospital where two Ebola patients have been treated.
–With assistance from Mark Drajem in Washington.
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