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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 8th, 2014
05:56 PM ET

CDC: We can't get U.S. Ebola risk to zero

(CNN) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Wednesday that banning all travel to West Africa to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus would cause more problems than it would solve.

"It makes it hard to get health workers in, because they can't get out," he said. "If we make it harder to respond to the outbreak in West Africa, it will spread not only in those three countries (in West Africa hit hardest by Ebola) but to other parts of Africa and ultimately increase the risk here" in the United States.

Frieden made these remarks at a press conference announcing enhanced Ebola screening measures at select U.S. airports targeting travelers from West Africa.

These measures will "find people with fever" as well as those who have been in contact with people infected with the virus, he said. Most passengers tracked in West Africa with fevers actually had other illnesses, something that Frieden acknowledged could happen in the United States as well.

"So we expect to see some patients with fever," the CDC director said. "And that will cause some understandable concern at the airports."

Frieden said that these new measures are helpful, but they won't entirely eliminate the risk of the virus spreading.

"Whatever we do can't get the risk to zero here in the interconnected world that we live in today," he said.

The CDC director also offered his condolences to family and friends of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States who died from the virus earlier in the day.

"He is a face that we associate now with Ebola," Frieden said of Duncan, before mentioning all those who have died from the virus in West Africa.

The head of the CDC also talked about a patient in Frisco, Texas, who was recently transported to a hospital after a clinic reported possible Ebola symptoms.

This person "does not have either definite contact with Ebola" - i.e. the patient is not known to have been exposed - "or definite symptoms of Ebola," according to Frieden.

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