The World Health Organization rejected a travel ban to and from Ebola-stricken countries several weeks before an airline passenger infected with Ebola unknowingly brought the disease from Liberia into America.
In its Aug. 14 press release, WHO disapproved of a potential ban on international travel to and from the West African nations hit hardest by Ebola, suggesting instead that governments provide “their citizens traveling to Ebola-affected countries with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.”
In explaining the reasoning behind the decision, WHO said “the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low,” which completely ignores the possibility that someone infected with Ebola could spread the disease weeks after flying back to his home country.
“On the small chance that someone on the plane is sick with Ebola, the likelihood of other passengers and crew having contact with their body fluids is even smaller,” the press release states. “Usually when someone is sick with Ebola, they are so unwell that they cannot travel.”
“WHO is therefore advising against travel bans to and from affected countries.”
That small chance became reality on Tuesday when the U.S. Center for Disease Control confirmed a person in Dallas, Texas, contracted Ebola after visiting Liberia, which is the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States.
The man had arrived in the U.S. by plane from Liberia on Sept. 20 and went to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with symptoms of Ebola a few days later.
“The patient was discharged with antibiotics and returned again days later with watery diarrhea and other symptoms, tested for both malaria and Ebola, and put in isolation on the 28th,” Erick Erickson with Red State wrote, quoting a source reportedly from the CDC.
Earlier this morning, Dallas health officials announced they are now monitoring a second person who may have contracted Ebola after coming into contact with the first patient.
“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: the fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said in an interview with local ABC affiliate WFAA. “So this is real.”
Despite the WHO’s recommendation against a travel ban, multiple countries decided to terminate air service to and from West African nations back in August, further indicating that WHO downplayed the risk of Ebola spreading via air travel.