Barack Obama makes a statement for the press after a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House / Getty Images

President says 'emergency response SWAT team' will ensure proper isolation of any patients - and proper protection for care-givers

President Barack Obama insisted that the chances of a serious outbreak of Ebola on US soil remained “very, very low”, but warned the epidemic will "spread globally" if allowed the rage without control in West Africa

Speaking just hours after officials revealed that a second nurse in Texas had been diagnosed with the deadly disease, Mr Obama said that the “likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low… but we are taking this very seriously at the highest level of government”.

The authorities spent the day scrambling to find 132 passengers who were on a two-and-a-half hour flight with newly diagnosed nurse as she started to show symptoms. 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson is the second person who looked after a Liberian patient, who died of Ebola last week at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, to catch the disease, raising questions about the US health system’s ability to cope.

After calling an emergency meeting of cabinet members and other top officials, Mr Obama said he had told the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to deploy an “emergency response - a SWAT team” any time a new case arises in the US to ensure proper isolation of the patient and proper protection for care-givers.

On a day when he had cancelled political trips to New Jersey and Connecticut to remain in Washington to monitor developments, Mr Obama also stressed the need to tackle the disease in West Africa. “I am absolutely confident we can prevent a serious outbreak of the disease here in the US but it becomes more difficult if this epidemic rages out of control in West Africa,” he said. “If it does it will spread globally.” Insisting that Ebola is not like the flu and is only communicated by direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone already infected, Mr Obama pointed out that during a visit to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta last month where a doctor returned from West Africa was being treated for Ebola he had shaken hands, hugged and kissed nurses treating him and he, the president, had felt perfectly safe.