Obama: 'Extremely low' odds of U.S. Ebola outbreak

First Ebola case outside of Africa
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Story highlights

  • President Obama says foreign leaders need to do more to fight Ebola
  • He calls the odds of an outbreak in the United States "extremely low"
  • He says the White House is developing new protocols for airline screening
President Barack Obama plans to heap "a lot of pressure" on foreign leaders to do more to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, he said Monday.
After meeting with health and national security aides, Obama told reporters the White House is developing protocols to screen airline passengers "both at the source and here in the United States," an indication that tougher restrictions on those who have visited West Africa are coming after an infected Dallas man entered the country on a commercial flight.
Obama downplayed the chances of Ebola spreading within the United States, calling the odds of an epidemic here "extremely low."
The President touted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's expertise in fighting infectious diseases, saying, "We know what has to be done, and we've got the medical infrastructure to do it."
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But he complained that other countries have not stepped up "as aggressively as they need to," calling the Ebola threat one that becomes "more imminent" without a global effort to prevent the disease's spread.
He didn't name specific countries or leaders who haven't done enough, but said there are "some small countries that are punching above" their weight and "some large countries that aren't doing enough."
"This is an area where everybody has to chip in and everybody has to move quickly in order for us to get this under control," Obama said. "Countries who think they can sit on the sidelines and just let the United States do it, that will result in a less effective response, a less speedy response, and that means people die."
The President's comments come one week after a Dallas man who recently returned from a trip to West Africa became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. A nurse in Spain on Monday became the first woman to contract Ebola outside Africa.