The White House has decided that now is the time to start “working on protocols” to prevent the spread of Ebola into the United States.
President Obama demanded action from the international community on Monday, stating, “We have not seen other countries step up as aggressively as they need to.” However, he also revealed that the United States is “working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source (in West Africa) and here in the United States,” USA Today reported.
Obama did not seem too worried, however, as he on Monday and in other public appearances has repeatedly said that the chances of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the US is “extremely low.”
On Tuesday, the US officials announced that airports are going to start screening passengers for symptoms of Ebola. Some have questioned whether the aforementioned screening tactic could succeed, being that the incubation period from time of infection can be as long as three weeks.
Why the United States decided that now was the time to start working on a plan, when the first case of the new Ebola strain was documented on December 28, 2013, remains unclear.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared two months ago, on August 8th, that the virus had risen to the level of an “International Public Health Emergency.” WHO Chief Margaret Chan said at the time that the announcement “alerts the world to the need for high vigilance for possible cases of Ebola virus disease.” She continued, asking the international community to come together in a “clear call for international solidarity.”
According to the most recent WHO statistics, Ebola has now claimed the lives of over 3,400 people. Many believe that the WHO official count, including WHO themselves, that the number may only be a fraction of the actual death toll, which has largely been due to under and unreported new cases.