WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said on Monday his administration was working on additional protocols for screening airplane passengers to identify people who might have Ebola and would step up efforts to make medical professionals aware of what to do if they encounter a case.
Obama made the disclosure after meeting top administration officials involved in attempting to prevent an outbreak of Ebola in the United States.
After a series of missteps involving the handling of a man who arrived in Dallas from Liberia with Ebola, Obama said "we have learned lessons in terms of what happened in Dallas." "We don't have a lot of margin for error," he said.
The president told reporters the chance of an outbreak in the United States was "extremely low" but that there was not a large margin for error.
The White House is so far not considering a travel ban from West Africa, but Obama made clear that some steps were being pondered to bolster US defences against Ebola.
He said officials were working on additional protocols for screening air passengers to identify people who have the deadly virus, which has been blamed for hundreds of deaths in West Africa.
Obama said it is important to make sure health workers are informed. "But we're also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source and here in the United States," he said.
Obama said he also planned to step up pressure on large countries, which he did not identify by name, to contribute aid to West African nations struggling to contain the worst outbreak of Ebola on record.
"The good news is that it's not an airborne disease. We know what has to be done and we have the medical infrastructure to do it. But this is an extraordinarily virulent disease when you don't follow the best protocols," he said.