Monday, August 11, 2014

Travel Bans and Ebola

So far, there has been an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, and Guinea. Travel in and out of these countries should be completely banned. These countries should be placed under strict quarantine until this outbreak is done with. Almost everyone would probably respond with the idea that my prescription is too harsh. If anything, it's not harsh enough.

First, I'll start by listing the facts. Ebola is a disease and this outbreak of Ebola has had a mortality rate of >50%. In other words, this version of Ebola is absolutely lethal. It's one of the most lethal viruses out there and there's no proven way of stopping it. Also note that there's a lot about Ebola that we do not fully understand. We do know that it's a virus, but some of its transmission mechanisms are not fully known. In other words, we're not fully sure of what exactly we're even fighting against.

Another important point of note is that the Ebola outbreak thus far has been contained in a few regions of Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, and Guinea, but that doesn't mean very much. All of those countries are extremely poor areas without proper sanitation and public health. We must also recognize that Ebola has very similar symptoms to diseases that're very common in that area of the world like malaria, yellow fever, and many others--so the cases (and deaths) from Ebola are certainly underreported.

This disease cannot be allowed to spread to any other part of the world. If the mortality rate holds, we could be seriously talking about around 50% of the world's population dead. That scenario cannot be allowed to happen at any cost, regardless of the probability. If that means we have to take precautions that may seem to be extreme, so be it.

It makes absolutely no sense to trust the governments of countries that're not only poor, but incompetent and have been in political and social turmoil for, in some cases, centuries. A policy that's reliant on trusting these governments isn't just a bad idea--it's fucking stupid.

What we need to do is to immobilize travel in and out of these countries. If that means placing troops on the borders of these countries or putting up massive obstacles to get in and out, then that's what we have to do. If there are citizens of other countries who have contracted Ebola inside Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, or Guinea, they can be transported to their home countries via quarantined wards on specific helicopters or planes. With those particular exceptions, there should be absolutely no travel between these countries. There's simply too much risk. It's morally wrong to risk death of half of the world's population. I'm NOT saying that half the world's population will die if we don't take up this methodology. However, I am saying that if there's even a .01% chance of death in half the world's population from this outbreak, then the risk of such an event cannot be allowed regardless of the consequences to the countries at hand.

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