|SecState Kerry, setting a good example in this time of Ebola|
Shall we ban travelers from West Africa from entry into the United States? It seems the inevitable next step in containing the Ebola outbreak. We would not be alone, not by any means.
Saudi Arabia has already refused visas to "more than 7,000 would-be pilgrims from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone" as well as to anyone who visited those countries recently, according to the Nigerian embassy in Bern. Air France, British Air, and the airlines of some African nations have suspended flights to West Africa.
Why hasn't the U.S. done likewise? And if we did, would that be enough to prevent the importation of more travelers who have been exposed to Ebola?
The NYT is running an opinion piece today by the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies who points out that there may be over 13,000 holders of U.S. visas from the most affected countries. How would we ban them from entry?
Here's the key paragraph from the Op-Ed piece: Bar People From Areas Affected by Ebola Until Threat Is Over :
The total number of visas issued to citizens of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is not large relative to other countries. But it’s a large enough group to worry about. Based on State Department nonimmigrant visa issuance statistics [here], I estimate that there are about 5,000 people in Guinea, 5,000 people in Sierra Leone and 3,500 people in Liberia who possess visas to come to the United States today (or who could be in the U.S. right now). Additional steps need to be taken to protect our communities.
The WaPo has chimed in with an article in its Health section that has a hard-core headline (Why hasn’t the U.S. closed its airports to travelers from Ebola-ravaged countries?) but some squishy soft content:
If someone isn't exhibiting symptoms of Ebola, that person is not infectious. And one of the first symptoms of Ebola is a fever. In airports in all of the affected regions and across the world, passengers coming from flights from West Africa are being screened for elevated temperatures.
So, airline passengers are screened for elevated temperature, and so long as they don't seem to have a fever they can board a flight out of the hot zone? What if an infected traveler has taken acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to lower his fever, like the U.S. National Institutes of Health says it will?
Unless we get serious with travel restrictions and entry screening, more infectious travelers may very well be coming to a city near you.