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October 30, 2014

Ebola Update: Airlines Work Against Travel Ban

ebolaEbola is still topping the headlines this week due to a political tussle over state and federal quarantine measures. Here's the latest:  

Airlines Privately Work Against Travel Ban

Airlines have been privately applying pressure to the U.S. government against the implementation of a ban on travel from hard-hit Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Reuters reports. Airlines for America (A4A) has said that it supports the Obama administration's position that a ban would hinder efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Airlines have also indicated that their booking agents and software would not be able to identify travelers under any potential ban, and that such a ban might harm travel on a wider scale by alarming the public. 

"Public hysteria is something we certainly don't want to see," an executive at a major U.S. carrier told Reuters. 

A potential Ebola travel ban had been in the public eye since early October, when a survey by NBC showed support among 58 percent of Americans for such a ban. 

The Obama administration had been against a full-fledged travel ban, arguing that one could make the outbreak worst by causing civil unrest in the countries hardest-hit by the virus, hindering efforts to stop the outbreak at its source. 

"You isolate them, you can cause unrest in the country," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, told "Fox News Sunday" at the time. ''It's conceivable that governments could fall if you just isolate them completely."

Mandatory Quarantines Spark Controversy

The moves in the travel sector come as mandatory quarantine procedures imposed by state governments have sparked controversy in the consumer media. 

In Maine, nurse Kaci Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in West Africa for Doctors Without Borders, is challenging a mandatory quarantine policy. Hickox has indicated that she would cease cooperating if the state had not lifted the mandatory quarantine by Thursday. The state is seeking a court order to allow state troopers to detain the nurse.  

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