President Barack Obama  
Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images

In an effort to tamp down fear about the spread of Ebola in the U.S., President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Americans not to give in to hysteria or fear.

“This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear—because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need,” he said during his weekly address to the nation. “We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts.

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“First, what we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America,” he continued. “We’re a nation of more than 300 million people. To date, we’ve seen three cases of Ebola diagnosed here: the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them, and we’re doing everything we can to give them the best care possible. Now, even one infection is too many. At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective. As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.”

He dismissed a travel ban to West Africa, where the disease has killed more than 4,000 people, saying that experts tell him it could worsen the situation. Instead the U.S. will continue to help lead the global response to the region.

“I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States, and we can continue to lead the world in this urgent effort,” he said.

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