(CNN) Experts say travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus could have unwanted consequences that compromise that effort.
Days have passed since the US restrictions came into effect. UU., Blockade of foreigners who have visited China in the past two weeks of arrival in the United States. UU.
Details are still emerging on the impact of the travel ban on the United States. But some are already urging the United States to reconsider.
“All the evidence we have indicates that travel restrictions and quarantines targeting individual countries are unlikely to keep the virus out of our borders,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety, a legislator at Capitol Hill. week. “These measures can exacerbate the social and economic tolls of the epidemic. And they can make us less secure.”
The director general of the World Health Organization also spoke this week and asked countries not to impose travel restrictions.
Passengers board the buses after arriving on January 29 in a plane carrying US citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China, to the base of the March air reserve in Riverside, California. Under new restrictions, U.S. citizens who return to the United States and who have been in the Chinese province of Hubei in the two weeks prior to their return will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
US officials have defended the government’s response, saying they are taking important steps to prepare for the virus and stop it from spreading, and that the timing of their efforts is critical.
“Fortunately, due to the improvement of the global capacity and of the surveillance and laboratory capacity, it was detected in advance, before it spread all over the world, and we had this time window in which they could intervene to reduce the speed”, said Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UU.
But several experts who spoke to CNN say there are several ways in which travel bans can be counterproductive when authorities try to stop an outbreak. Here are some of them:
People may be more likely to lie
Scientists are still studying how the new coronavirus is transmitted. According to the CDC, it is mainly transmitted from person to person “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes”, such as the flu.
With this virus, like others that preceded it, a key tool that researchers have when they try to cure it and prevent it from spreading is the information that people share about their symptoms and behaviors. And a travel ban can hinder it, public health experts say.
“On a personal level, it discourages people from introducing themselves, from being transparent. People are more likely to try to travel in less direct ways, which would totally deny the purpose of this,” says Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist in Arizona and a researcher at Global health security at George Mason University. “You are forcing people to situations that could more actively promote the transmission of the disease.”
Governments may also contain the truth
The same can be said of how governments might respond when they see the travel ban, says Dr. Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Global Health Institute.
“Much depends on voluntary relationships,” says Omer.
And governments can hesitate to share information on new coronavirus cases in their countries if they feel they are punished for doing so.
“If you are the prime minister of a small to medium-sized economy, there would be a disincentive for you,” says Omer. “Become a disincentive for solidarity and international collaboration”.
There could be important economic consequences.
One of the reasons countries can be cautious when sharing information: the economic consequences of a travel ban can be devastating.
“It has huge economic implications,” says Popescu.
Eric Carter, an associate professor of geography and global health at Macalaster College, studying public health policies, points out for example what happened in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.
“First, it was somewhat difficult for healthcare professionals to enter the country to really do the job they had to do,” he says. “It also severely damaged the economies of West African countries affected by Ebola because they were isolated from the rest of the world. Other countries were not even buying what they produced. This ended up being truly dramatic effects.”
The latest U.S. restrictions could prevent hundreds of thousands of people from visiting the United States every month and “have huge economic and social impacts,” says Sarah Pierce, a political analyst at the Washington Migration Policy Institute.
“Because of the way it is written, it appears that Chinese citizens will be unable to obtain visas,” he told CNN. “This is a huge flow that this ban is limiting with very little evidence that it will benefit the United States.”