A case study in incompetence
Schoolchildren in Texas may be at risk from Ebola today after five children who attend four different Dallas schools came in close contact with the first patient diagnosed with the deadly virus on U.S. soil.
Officials said on Wednesday that the students were in school this week after possibly being in contact with the patient over the weekend when he had become contagious with the deadly virus.
The Ebola patient was named today as Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national in his mid-forties, who had traveled to the U.S. from Liberia on September 20 to visit his family.
His sister Mai Wureh said her sick brother told officials the first time he went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 26 that he was visiting from a West African country in the so-called 'Ebola hot zone' - but was sent home with antibiotics, a critically-missed opportunity to prevent others being exposed to the disease.
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles said on Wednesday that the children who came in contact with Mr Duncan are showing no symptoms and are now being monitored at home.
As an added precaution, Miles says additional health and custodial staff will be at the high, middle and two elementary schools that the students attend.
The Star-Telegram reported that children from L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School were taken out of school by concerned parents.
Mr Duncan's family are among up to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man along with the ambulance crew who transported him to hospital.
As health officials scrambled to contain the infection, Texas Governor Rick Perry said at a hospital press conference on Wednesday that he had 'full confidence' in Texas medical teams when it came to the safety and welfare of citizens, adding that only those who came in close contact with the patient when he was contagious were at risk.
- Refused admission to ALL travellers from the outbreak regions in Africa;
- Put Liberia and its neighbours on the "do-not-visit" list that is normally kept updated by the State Department (and which usually has countries like Israel on it);
- Immediately quarantined any incoming passengers who had transited through West Africa in the past 3 weeks, for a further 2 weeks in isolation;
- Cut off all incoming shipments with West African nations for the duration of the emergency;
- Done everything it could to stop Americans from travelling to the stricken areas;
- In the event of an infected person (inevitably) slipping through all of these precautions, instituted immediate quarantine procedures to ring-fence and contain the disease as quickly as possible