WASHINGTON (WNEW/AP) — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is questioning President Barack Obama’s decision to send 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to help combat Ebola, worrying that troops might contract the virus.
Speaking to “The Laura Ingraham Show” Wednesday about the first case of Ebola inside the U.S., the potential 2016 presidential contender stated it has to be a concern about having thousands of soldiers on the same ship who could have been in contact with the deadly virus.
“You also have to be concerned about 3,000 soldiers getting back on a ship. Where is disease most transmittable? When you’re in a very close confines on a ship, we all know about cruises and how they get these diarrhea viruses that are transmitted very easily,” Paul told Ingraham. “Can you imagine if a whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?’
Paul said he felt “political correctness” is getting in the way of government officials making sound decisions to deal with the Ebola threat.
“I really think that it is being dominated by political correctness and I think because of political correctness we’re not really making sound, rational, scientific decisions on this,” Paul noted.
Paul warned about the “transmissibility” of the virus.
“We should not underestimate the transmissibility of this,” Paul said. “My suspicion is that it’s a lot more transmissible than that if people who are taking every precaution are getting it. There are people getting it who simply helped people get in or out of a taxicab.”
The senator from Kentucky added: “It’s a big mistake to underestimate the potential for problems worldwide.”
Since the summer months, U.S. health officials have been preparing for the possibility that an individual traveler could unknowingly arrive with the infection. Health authorities have advised hospitals on how to prevent the virus from spreading within their facilities.
People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but that does not guarantee that an infected person won’t get through.
Liberia is one of the three hardest-hit countries in the epidemic, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Ebola is believed to have sickened more than 6,500 people in West Africa, and more than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease, according to the World Health Organization. But even those tolls are probably underestimates, partially because there are not enough labs to test people for Ebola.
Two mobile Ebola labs staffed by American naval researchers arrived this weekend and will be operational this week, according to the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. The labs will reduce the amount of time it takes to learn if a patient has Ebola from several days to a few hours.
The U.S. military also delivered equipment to build a field hospital, originally designed to treat troops in combat zones. The 25-bed clinic will be staffed by American health workers and will treat doctors and nurses who have become infected. The U.S. is planning to build 17 other clinics in Liberia and will help train more health workers to staff them.
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