(Reuters) – Congressional lawmakers criticized the government’s response to Ebola in the United States on Thursday as some called, at a congressional hearing probing efforts to contain the virus, for a ban on travel from epidemic-stricken West Africa.
Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta told reporters separately that the United States is assessing whether to issue a travel ban “on a day-to-day basis” but that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had determined that a ban would not address the challenges posed by Ebola.
The congressional hearing comes as concerns about the virus in the United States are accelerating. Several schools in Ohio and Texas were closed after concerns that a nurse with Ebola traveled on a plane with people with ties to the schools.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it would take over the care of the first Texas nurse diagnosed with Ebola, Nina Pham, who contracted the virus while treating a man from Liberia who later died.
Lawmakers focused questions and pointed criticism at the hearing on CDC chief Dr. Thomas Frieden.
“The administration did not act fast enough in responding in Texas,” Democratic Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa told the hearing. “We need to look at all the options available to keep our families safe and move quickly and responsibly to make any necessary changes at airports.”
Several Republicans said flights from West Africa, where the virus is widespread, should be stopped.
Ebola has killed nearly 4,500 people in West Africa, predominantly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, since March. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person.
“I predict you’re going to put on or the president’s going to put on travel restrictions,” Republican Representative Billy Long of Missouri told Frieden during the hearing. “I don’t know if it’s going to be today or tomorrow or two weeks or a month from now. But I think that they’re coming, and I think sooner rather than later.”….READ MORE…