WTVM 10/3/14 Editorial: Travel restrictions and Ebola

(WTVM) - News of the Ebola patient, who travelled to Texas from Liberia and became ill, is growing as quickly as the deadly West African virus itself.

There were plenty of mistakes made in handling this patient - the biggest is that he was able to get into America.

The first mistake was made by the patient himself, Thomas Eric Duncan, who neglected to tell the airline that had touched an Ebola-infected pregnant woman just before his trip.

The next major error was the Dallas hospital sending Duncan home the first time he sought treatment, even though Duncan told them he just arrived from Liberia.

But the costliest mistake, so far, has been the federal government's refusal to impose a strict travel ban on flights to and from West African countries.

Like Sierra Leone, where 5 people fall ill with Ebola each hour. No travel ban. Despite President Obama telling the UN that Ebola is a "threat to our national security".

It wasn't very long ago that the US did impose a travel ban for a different reason: we banned flights into Israel, because of concerns about surface-to-air missiles during the conflict with Hamas.

Right now, travelers from West Africa must disclose to the airlines whether they may have been exposed to Ebola, but no independent medical exams are required...and patients like Duncan can exploit that lack of verification.

Ebola is already on the "banned disease list", even though US immigration has no screening process in place right now.

Clearly, that needs to happen immediately.

So does a strictly enforced travel ban to and from West Africa.

If President Obama really wants to protect us health, this is the step we must take and we need to take it now.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

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