Obama holds Ebola meeting as WH defends handling of outbreak

Updated: 2014-10-16 05:56

(China Daily USA)

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Obama holds Ebola meeting as WH defends handling of outbreak

White House spokesman Josh Earnest fields a question about Ebola during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Oct 15, 2014. A second Texas nurse who has contracted Ebola flew on a commercial flight from Ohio to Dallas with a slight temperature the day before she was diagnosed, health officials said on Wednesday, raising new concerns about US efforts to control the disease. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama convened a high-level meeting about the Ebola outbreak on Wednesday after abruptly postponing a political trip in what was a sign of growing concern about the deadly virus.

The White House strongly defended the government's handling of the Ebola problem after it became clear that a second Texas healthcare worker who tested positive for the virus had traveled aboard a commercial airliner.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the government is showing "the kind of tenacious, adaptive response that's required," and that Americans should continue having confidence in the Obama administration.

But criticism grew of the administration's handling of the situation.

Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas told MSNBC that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to be more responsive, and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman tweeted that the government must be more proactive in the fight to prevent Ebola from spreading in the United States.

The White House said Obama's political trip to New Jersey and Connecticut had been postponed with less than three weeks to go until the Nov 4 congressional elections.

Obama had planned to attend a Democratic fundraiser in Union, New Jersey, and headline a rally for the reelection of Democratic Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The postponement suggested a higher level of concern at the White House after reports emerged that a second Texas healthcare worker who tested positive for Ebola after caring for a patient with the virus had traveled by plane a day before she reported symptoms.

The worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas had taken a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio, to Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday, officials said.

Obama said on Tuesday that the US public healthcare infrastructure is such that an Ebola epidemic in the United States is highly unlikely.

Earnest told reporters that this remained the case. He ruled out for the time being that the United States might impose a ban on travel from Ebola-ravaged West Africa.

He also suggested that an Ebola "czar" to coordinate the US global response was not necessary as of yet.

Obama held a video conference call with leaders from Britain, France, Germany and Italy to discuss Ebola. He reiterated that a larger international response to the crisis is needed.

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