In the debate over travel bans to West Africa, one fact seems to be missing. Travel restrictions are not travel bans.
It is highly desirable that aid workers, health care workers, government officials, and business people be able to travel back and forth between West Africa and the rest of the world. That doesn't mean additional steps can't be taken to prevent the importation of the disease into the United States.
For starters, we don't need to allow people with West African passports into the United States on tourist visas if there is any chance their travel has originated from West Africa. No American needs to travel to West Africa merely to see the sights. They can wait to see Disneyworld and we can wait to tour Monroevia.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who brought Ebola to the United States, arrived on a tourist visa. He had told his friends that his intention was to illegally overstay his visa and work in the U.S. He was willing to take this chance because Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress refuse to protect our nation's borders or enforce our immigration laws. A restriction on tourist travel or a reputation for enforcement of immigration laws would have kept Duncan -- and Ebola -- out of the country.
Most Ebola cases will manifest themselves within 21 days of exposure, although the World Health Organization and other researchers say the virus can have a longer incubation period. Obviously a quarantine period either before or after a flight greatly reduces the risk of exposing the general public to Ebola.
For example, if Thomas Duncan had been required to undergo a five-day quarantine in Liberia prior to boarding his flight to the United States he wouldn't have been allowed to do so, as by the fifth day he would have been showing symptoms of the virus. Any quarantine period is better than none at all.
West Africans could be quarantined in their home countries prior to boarding their flights; their governments are very cooperative. Americans could be allowed to return home and serve their quarantine in the United States. The quarantine period should be based on the likelihood of exposure, with everyone having a minimum quarantine period of four or five days; those with likely exposure would have a full 21-day quarantine.
A few days in a hotel sipping Mai Tais by a hotel swimming pool doesn't seem too much of a burden on those wishing to travel from West Africa to the United States. It won't hamper relief efforts.
Travel restrictions and travel bans will not eliminate the risk of ebola cases arising in the heartland. If the contagion continues to grow at its current pace we will have cases which crop up here at home. Obama and the Democrats in Congress take the view that since travel restrictions won't stop all cases of Ebola we should just throw open the borders and take no precautions whatsoever. This is insanity! The fewer domestic cases we have to deal with, the better.
Reasonable travel restrictions harm no one. A ban on tourist travel is a ban on those up to no good in the first place. A reasonable quarantine policy won't eliminate risk, but it will greatly reduce it, and that should be our goal.
We don't need to ban West Africa travel. We do need to restrict and regulate it.
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