US President Barack Obama has said that blocking flights from west Africa to stem the spread of Ebola could actually make the situation worse.
Lawmakers have been placing pressure on him to block all flights from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – the three countries suffering most at the hands of the epidemic – in order to ensure the deadly virus does not take hold in the US.
But Obama said it was not possible to just “cut ourselves off from west Africa”, and that while he was not philosophically opposed to travel bans, imposing them in this situation would make it harder to move health workers and supplies into the affected region.
Additionally, he said it would encourage people to find ways into the US without going through screening. "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world – if that were even possible – could actually make the situation worse," he said during his weekly address.
He added that it would take time to fight the disease, warning "before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America." But he urged Americans to remain calm and avoid becoming hysterical about the epidemic.
Over 4,500 people have died in west Africa since the epidemic began in December, according to the World Health Organisation.
At the end of September, a man fell ill with Ebola in the US after travelling to Texas from Liberia. Two nurses who treated him have since contracted the virus.