UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticised the travel bans and closing of borders by countries in response to the Ebola outbreak and asked the nations not to incite panic, saying ‘the only way to stop Ebola is to stop it at its source.’
“The gravity of the (Ebola) outbreak deserves our full attention. However, it is also critical to remain calm. We must convey a sense of urgency without inciting panic,” Ban told reporters alongside African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where they had discussed how the three organizations can help efforts to stop the Ebola epidemic unfolding in West Africa.
Pointing out that some countries have imposed travel bans or closed their borders, Ban said such measures will only ‘isolate the affected countries, and obstruct our response efforts. The only way to stop Ebola is to stop it at its source’.
Earlier, Ban had said that quarantines should be based on scientific evidence, expressing concern over restrictions on travellers returning from Ebola-affected countries.
He said those people who develop infections should be “supported, not stigmatized” and restrictions will hamper work of the healthcare workers in stopping the outbreak in source countries.
Ban reiterated that the best way for any country to protect itself from Ebola is to stop the outbreak at its source in West Africa.
“This requires considerable international health care worker support and in return for this support, we have an obligation to look after them,” he said.
The UN Chief said quarantines not based on scientific evidence would only hamper efforts and will also undermine strong commitment by many health workers who are willing ready to visit and help the people on the ground.
As aid workers and medical personnel return to their countries after working to provide treatment to Ebola patients in West Africa, several restrictions have been put on their movement by governments as they aim to prevent the spread of the virus.
In New York, after a doctor who treated Ebola patients returned from Guinea and tested positive for the virus, state government had put in place a mandatory 21-day quarantine for travellers returning from the most-affected West African countries.