WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama cancelled two trips Thursday to Rhode Island and New York to focus on his government’s response to the Ebola crisis, as Republicans urged him to suspend flights from countries affected by the disease.
Obama was scheduled to travel to Rhode Island for an economic event before attending a Democratic Party fundraiser in Long Island, New York, for the November legislative election, the White House said.
The president Wednesday suspended two other trips to New Jersey and Connecticut and chaired a cabinet meeting to coordinate the response to Ebola, hours after a second health worker in Dallas was diagnosed with the disease.
Nurse Amber Joy Vinson, 29, tested positive to the Ebola virus after taking care of an infected Liberian patient who died last week at the Dallas hospital where she worked.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner has urged the government to consider temporarily suspending flights from Ebola affected countries to prevent new infections in the US.
“A temporary ban on travel to the US from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider along with any other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow,” Boehner said in a statement.
In the last few weeks, about thirty legislators, nearly all Republicans, have made similar requests.
But the suspension “is not on the table at this time,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest after Obama held a video conference with the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and the UK to discuss the global strategy against Ebola.
The Ebola epidemic that broke out in West Africa last March has already caused 4,447 deaths and infected 8,914 people, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). — IANS