Obama Dismisses Ebola 'Hysteria'

AP189700398372AP/Jacquelyn MartinPresident Barack Obama speaks to the media about the government’s Ebola response, in the Oval Office of the White House Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Washington.

President Barack Obama said on Saturday that the US must not “give in to hysteria or fear” when it comes to the Ebola virus.

“All of us-citizens, leaders, the media-have a responsibility and a role to play. This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts,” Obama said during his weekly address.

The president specifically dismissed claims that there is anything close to an “outbreak” or “pandemic” in the US. He noted five Americans who contracted Ebola in Africa have been brought back to the US and — unlike the recent cases in Dallas — no healthcare workers were infected.

“Now, even one infection is too many,” he said. “At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective. As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.”

Obama pointed to his own actions as proof that there’s no cause for alarm.

“I’ve met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who’ve treated Ebola patients. I’ve met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office. And I’m fine,” he said.

The president also reiterated his administration’s opposition to a West Africa travel ban. Agreeing with experts, the president warned the proposal could actually hinder efforts to stop the disease.

“Finally, we can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse,” he said. “Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track. “

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