has announced plans to send thousands of U.S. troops to the region.
“Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace, we are prepared to take leadership on this, to provide the type of capabilities that only America has and mobilize our resources in ways that only America can do,” he said.
The initiative, announced by Obama at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, comes as the virus has infected more than 5,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal.
Under the U.S. plan, 3,000 U.S. troops will be sent to a new command center in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to help with the transportation of supplies and other personnel.
U.S. forces will construct 17 health care facilities of 100 beds each to isolate and treat victims. The U.S. mission will also set up a facility to train 500 health care workers per week.
“An already very weak public health system is near collapse in these (West African) countries. Patients are being turned away and people are literally dying in the streets,” Obama said. “Here’s the hard truth: in West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes we have not seen before. It's spiraling out of control, it is getting worse, it’s spreading faster and exponentially.”
The number of people infected could grow to tens or even hundreds of thousands, he warned, if the outbreak isn’t stopped now.
That would mean “profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” he said. “This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security, it’s a threat to global security if these countries break down, if their economics break down, if people panic. And that has a profound effect on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease.”