A “surge” of personnel and other resources has been sent to Dallas to help discover how a nurse was infected with Ebola, top health officials told President Obama during an Oval Office meeting on Monday.
The president stressed that the investigation into the second U.S. infection “should proceed as expeditiously as possible and that lessons learned should be integrated into future response plans and disseminated to hospitals and healthcare workers nationwide.” He said officials should move “as expeditiously as possible,” according to the White House.
Obama was briefed on the Ebola case by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, participated via telephone.
The White House said health officials were still examining whether there had been a breach of infection control protocols in the case.
Frieden on Monday said a “relatively large” number of healthcare workers could be at risk for Ebola. Officials still do not know how the nurse in Dallas contracted the disease. She had been part of the team treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who entered the U.S. with the disease and died last week.
Separately, Obama also appealed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President François Hollande to help pressure other international players to step up their response to the crisis, which has left more than 4,000 people dead in West Africa.
Obama said the world is at a “critical juncture” in its response to the crisis, and called for other nations to “provide the personnel, equipment, and supplies required to stop the epidemic at its source,” according to the White House.
Over the weekend, Rice told NBC News that other countries “haven’t done enough” to address the Ebola threat.
“We are pushing very hard for everybody to do more,” Rice said. “This is going to take all hands on deck, because the goal has to be to contain this epidemic in the three countries that we’ve seen in West Africa to try to prevent its spread and to provide the appropriate care to those that need it.”
The White House did not announce any plans to shake up the team leading its response to the crisis. So far, Monaco has been tasked with coordinating the government’s interagency response, although some Republicans have called for the appointment of a czar to address the outbreak.
“There has to be more reassurance,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN on Sunday. “I would say that we don’t know exactly who’s in charge,” he added. “There has to be some kind of czar.”