Should the U.S. close its borders to countries with Ebola outbreaks? | The Tylt
Should the U.S. close its borders to countries with Ebola outbreaks?
The latest Ebola outbreak is uniquely terrifying given the size of the city it has infected. According to The Washington Post, the Ebola outbreak in the city of Mbandaka, with a population of 1.2 million people, marks "the first urban case in the latest outbreak of the disease."
The World Health Organization’s lead response official called the new confirmed case “a game changer.” Ebola is much harder to contain in urban areas, so this development compounds the risk of contagion and elevates the outbreak to the most serious since an Ebola epidemic that raged across West Africa between 2014 and 2016.
Some have begun calling on countries to close their borders to regions that have been infected, but experts say isolation isn't nearly as helpful as people think. David Quammen, the author of "EBOLA: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus," argues in TIME:
We’ve got to recognize that isolationism in the face of a 21st century epidemic is not only impracticable but also counterproductive. Ebola right now is a global concern, and the globe, last time I checked, includes America.
Furthermore, isolation could actually make a bad situation worse. Failing to help countries with Ebola outbreaks would mean the virus spreading more rapidly.
Isolating entire countries is a more difficult proposition. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has warned that the impulse to do that could make the Ebola epidemic worse. “Even if we tried to close the border... it wouldn’t work.” In fact, it might backfire, he added, because isolating the affected countries would make helping them hard or impossible, which in turn would allow Ebola “to spread more there, and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.”
As Obama's Ebola Czar, Ron Klain argues the "best way to keep Americans safe is to find these places overseas so that diseases don’t come here."
But let's be honest, can't we fight Ebola abroad while also protecting Americans at home? Temporarily closing our borders to regions infected with a deadly virus is just common sense. Daniel Wagner and Ian Wilkie argue in the International Policy Digest:
[Not closing the borders] is risking an almost certain regional and global pandemic. Now is not the time for political correctness or over-sensitivity to the local populations of the severely impacted countries. Yes–they are suffering badly and desperately need help, and they should receive it. Closing the borders would not prevent medical personnel and equipment from being delivered. The most important thing now is to seal those borders so no more infected individuals can leave the affected areas.
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, U.S. medical personnel were infected with the virus even after taking extreme precautions and wearing protective gear.
The U.S. government is sending flimsy plastic aprons and gauze masks to the Africans with assurances that the donning and removal processes are where the majority of the risk to caregivers is realized. This is simply not true. As is evident by the precautions currently being taken in the U.S. and other developed countries, multiple layers of protection are employed by health workers, and cadavers are treated as highly infectious.
This isn't a normal virus—Ebola is extremely contagious, and we should take every step possible to ensure not a single American gets infected.