Latest Developments In The Ebola Story
Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET
It’s Monday, and Ebola still dominates the headlines. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest developments:
Duncan’s Family Completes 21-Day Quarantine:
Four family members of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola at a Dallas hospital on Oct. 8, have completed a 21-day observation period, and health officials say they are all free of symptoms of the deadly virus. Thirty-nine other people on a list of people who had contact with Duncan, who was placed in isolation on Sept. 28, also have no symptoms.
At a morning news conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said several other health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who had contact with Duncan after he was placed in isolation would come off the list in the coming days.
“There’s zero risk that those people that have been crossed off the list have Ebola,” Jenkins said, adding that the children who were thought to be exposed are ready to return to school.
“Treat them like you would treat your family,” he advised.
USA Today writes: “The good news for Duncan’s family should also reassure Americans about a fact that public health officials have been emphasizing for weeks — that Ebola is not spread through casual contact — said Robert Murphy, director of the Center for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.”
Texas Health Worker On Cruise Ship Tests Negative:
According to The New York Times:
“Last week, the announcement that a passenger on the Carnival Magic was a Dallas lab supervisor who had handled an Ebola patient’s blood samples transformed a weeklong Caribbean jaunt into a high-seas drama showcasing anxieties over the spread of the virus. …
“As rumors swirled through the sun decks and dining rooms, the hospital worker and her husband agreed to quarantine themselves in their stateroom. Belize refused to allow the worker to be flown home through its international airport, and Mexico declined to let the ship’s passengers make a day trip to Cozumel. On Saturday afternoon, as the ship headed home, a Coast Guard helicopter swooped in to fetch a blood sample from the hospital worker, to cheers and applause from passengers.
“On Sunday morning, the cruise ship returned to port here on schedule, and health officials confirmed that the hospital worker had tested negative for Ebola.”
WHO Declares Nigeria Ebola-Free:
It’s been six weeks since a case of Ebola was reported in Nigeria, and the World Health Organization says the West African country is Ebola-free. WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital Abuja, called it a “spectacular success story.”
A single case in July infected nearly a dozen health care workers. Eight of 18 people infected in Nigeria died from the disease, but an aggressive response from public health officials succeeded in heading off an epidemic in the country.
NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, reporting on Morning Edition, says: “What the World Health Organization is saying is that everything came together. Cooperation and communication between federal and local authorities in Nigeria made sure the isolated cases didn’t spiral out of control and become a true catastrophe,” she says.
Senegal was declared Ebola-free by the WHO last week.
Liberia’s President Warns Ebola ‘Has No Borders’:
Although the epidemic has been contained in Nigeria and Senegal, it continues to rage in worst-hit Liberia.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says the disease has brought her country to a standstill.
“This disease respects no borders,” she says. “It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves.”
Sierra Leone and Guinea are also struggling to find a way to control the deadly virus.
CDC To Issue New Ebola Protocols:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to revise protocols for health workers dealing with possible Ebola cases to include protective gear “with no skin showing.”
“The CDC guidance was expected as early as Saturday, but its release has been pushed back while it continues to go through review by experts and government officials.
“Health officials had previously allowed hospitals some flexibility to use available covering when dealing with suspected Ebola patients. The new guidelines are expected to set a firmer standard: calling for full-body suits and hoods that protect worker’s necks, setting rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of hands, and calling for a “site manager” to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment.”
Pentagon To Form Ebola Rapid Response Team:
As we reported earlier, the Pentagon is training a 30-person medical response team to be deployed in the event of another diagnosis of Ebola in the U.S.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the team was formed based on a request from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The team will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols,” Kirby said.
European Union Seeking 1 Billion Euros To Fight Ebola:
The AP says: “EU foreign ministers on Monday opened a week of talks so that their 28 leaders can agree by Friday on a package of measures, which should include anything from financial aid to common repatriation procedures, treatment facilities on site and training for health workers.”
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