Republican Sen. Rand Paul, said the Obama administration may be downplaying the impact of the Ebola outbreak and called for a ban on all flights to the West African countries where the highly contagious virus has led to thousands of deaths. Paul also questioned President Barack Obama’s decision to send troops to Africa to help combat Ebola, fearing that the soldiers may bring the virus back to the U.S.
"It's a big mistake to downplay and act as if 'Oh, this is not a big deal, we can control all this.' This could get beyond our control," the Kentucky senator and potential 2016 Republican nominee for president told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham Wednesday. Paul could not be reached for further comment by International Business Times. "Senator Paul does not have time for interviews today," a spokesman said in an email.
Paul’s comments came the day after the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the U.S. The senator blamed “political correctness” for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Obama administration allegedly downplaying Ebola’s impact on America.
“I think because of political correctness we’re not really making sound, rational, scientific decisions on this,” he said. “It’s a big mistake to underestimate the potential for problems worldwide.”
Obama announced last month that he was sending 3,000 troops to West Africa in an effort to combat the Ebola virus. The plan included $763 million in funding to build treatment centers and train medical personnel.
Paul slammed the military portion of Obama’s plan amid concerns that the soldiers may contract Ebola and spread the virus when they return home.
"You also have to be concerned about 3,000 soldiers getting back on a ship. Where is the disease most transmittable? When you're in very close confines on a ship, we all know about cruises and how they get these diarrhea viruses that are transmitted very easily," Paul said. "Can you imagine if a whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?"
The Pentagon discounted Paul’s fear, saying the troops won’t be in contact with Ebola patients, according to CNN.
Paul also said it would be wise to cancel U.S. flights to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the West African countries hardest hit by Ebola. "If quarantine works within those countries, maybe the countries where it's [a problem], they will have to be quarantined from the rest of the world," he said.