U.S. fears spread of Ebola — to Latin America
The rapid spread of Ebola — which could infect millions by the New Year and kill tens of thousands if not managed — has provoked fear of migration. In an online survey from NBC, the majority of American respondents supported banning incoming flights from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. But it’s not just West African immigration that is worrying U.S. officials.
On Oct. 7, the Department of Defense (DOD) expressed concern that Ebola could spread to Central and South America, turning fear of the disease that has so far killed one victim in the U.S. into fear of immigration. U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly told a crowd at the National Defense University that if the disease reaches Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, people will panic and flee north.
“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie, bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said before elaborating on DOD efforts to halt West Africans attempting to migrate through Latin America.
Health officials have said that the best way to prevent a global outbreak of Ebola would be to ramp-up treatment and containment efforts in West Africa. Despite increased aid since earlier this year, doctors and healthcare workers still lack the resources they need to house and treat patients with the disease. Basic resources like soap for washing or beds for patients are not even available to many workers.