Fox News host Megyn Kelly pressed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Thomas Frieden Tuesday evening over why the U.S. government hasn’t implemented a travel ban to West Africa amid the Ebola outbreak.
“You admitted yourself that we’ve seen some flaws in the system, some areas that need improvement,” Kelly said. “Why not put a travel ban in place until we’ve shored up the system?”
[sharequote align=”center”]”Why not put a travel ban in place until we’ve shored up the system?”[/sharequote]
“We’ve already recommended that all non-essential travel to these countries be stopped for Americans,” Frieden responded. “We’ve already put into place screening at the airports where people are leaving and screening at airports where people are arriving here.”
“We’re always looking at ways that we can protect Americans,” the CDC director continued.
“This is one!” Kelly interjected. “A travel ban from West Africa until we are certain that our facilities here are up to the task and that our system has solved the flaws that you today admitted exist.”
Frieden answered, saying that “above all, do no harm” was serving as the guiding principle.
“If we are doing things that are going to make it harder to stop the epidemic there (West Africa), it’s going to spread to other parts of Africa,” he said.
Kelly didn’t appear satisfied by that answer.
“How is it (banning flights) going to make it harder to stop it?” she pressed.
“Because you can’t get people in and out,” Frieden answered.
“Why can’t we have charter flights?” Kelly then asked.
“You know, charter flights don’t do the same thing commercial airliners do,” Frieden said.
“What do you mean?” Kelly pressed. “They fly in, they fly out.”
“For a week — for a week, I sat in Liberia while the African union team that wanted to send hundreds of health care workers was stranded in Senegal because commercial airlines weren’t traveling,” the CDC director said. “If we isolate these countries, what’s not going to happen is disease staying there. It’s going to spread more all over Africa and we’ll be at higher risk.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter