Barack Obama lauds US health workers; cautions against restrictions

Lauding the heroism of US health workers battling Ebola, President Barack Obama has cautioned against discouraging them with restrictive measures upon their return from the West African region.

PTI| Updated: Oct 30, 2014, 12:39 PM IST

Washington: Lauding the heroism of US health workers battling Ebola, President Barack Obama has cautioned against discouraging them with restrictive measures upon their return from the West African region.

"We need to call them what they are, which is American heroes. They deserve our gratitude, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect," Obama said while speaking at the White House after meeting with returned health workers.

Emphasising that it was in America's interests to stop the Ebola outbreak at its source, Obama said "We can't hermetically seal ourselves off."

Obama, in his address to the US health care workers, expressed his frustration over the policies being advocated by some of the mainstream politicians on addressing the challenge being posed by Ebola virus.

"No other nation is doing as much to help in West Africa as the United States of America. When I hear people talking about American leadership, and then are promoting policies that would avoid leadership and have us running in the opposite direction and hiding under the covers, it makes me a little frustrated," Obama said.

"I know that with all the headlines and all the news, that people are scared. I know that Ebola has concerned them. But the reason I'm so proud of this country is because when there are times where we need to step up and do the right thing, we do the right thing. That's who we are. That's what we do," he said.

Obama's remarks came amid debate between the federal government and several states over how to monitor the returning health care workers.

"We're at our best when we are standing up and taking responsibility, especially when it requires us making sacrifices. And it's how we help others around the world that's important," said Obama.

The White House has pushed back against placing restrictions, including proposals for travel bans or isolation measures adopted by some states.

"It's our ability to work through problems that are really complicated, and to see something through, and not lose our heads; to have grace under pressure and apply ourselves with slow, steady effort - the kind that change and progress requires," Obama said.

Pentagon, meanwhile, ordered that the returning military personnel who helped fight Ebola must undergo 21-day quarantines.

Obama asserted that his administration is going to manage to contain the disease in America.