Texas Asks Nurses in Ebola Case to Avoid Public Places

In their effort to avoid the spread of the Ebola virus, Texas authorities — as much as is possible — want to isolate about 100 employees of Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who treated Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan. Duncan, who died on Oct. 8, was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States after contracting the disease in Liberia.

This Friday, Texas health authorities began to distribute a document to the health workers who were in contact with Duncan. The document insists that the workers greatly limit their movements in public places for the maximum 21 days of the Ebola incubation period. The workers have the right not to sign the document. However, in the case they do not sign it, they may become objects of “a communicable disease control order,” detailed in the text to which the newspaper The New York Times has provided access. Said order could require these people to go under obligatory quarantine, as was the case with Duncan’s relatives in Texas.

The restrictions in Texas — a state that stresses the importance of personal freedoms — were made two days after a second nurse that attended to Duncan contracted Ebola, and was diagnosed with it after traveling from Ohio to Texas on a commercial flight. The first case was discovered on Sunday.

The document, signed by the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health, details that no individual who entered Duncan’s room can travel using commercial transportation until 21 days after last exposure to the deceased patient. “Local use of public transportation (taxi, bus) by individuals should be discussed with the public health authority,” it adds.

Additionally, during these 21 days, none of the individuals can “go to any location where members of the public congregate,” including restaurants, grocery stores, theaters and places with concentrations of people.

At the same time, the body temperature and state of health of the workers who attended to Duncan must be checked twice a day, at least once in the presence of a specialist. These employees have the option to stay under supervision in the hospital if they wish.

On Wednesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins recognized that it is very probable new cases of infected people will occur. The fact that the second nurse infected, Amber Joy Vinson, traveled by plane has spread concern regarding the risk of Ebola transmission in the United States. It has also caused President Barack Obama to cancel two days of election-focused trips in order to face the crisis: On Wednesday and Thursday, he organized various meetings with his cabinet to devise new methods to respond to the Ebola threat, and on Friday, he named a special coordinator to manage the spread of the virus.

Moreover, this Thursday, authorities in Texas and Ohio disclosed new details about the people who could have been infected by Vinson. Texas announced that it is actively monitoring eight people — who have made themselves accessible and are undergoing regular testing — who were close to Vinson in the airplane on Monday, while other citizens have been asked to self-monitor their body temperature.

In Ohio, authorities announced that 16 people, one of whom is under quarantine, are being actively supervised after being in contact with Vinson during her weekend in that state. At the moment, these people have not shown signs of illness.

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