Reuters / Jaime R. Carrero
The mandatory quarantine for the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient in the US who died on Oct. 8, has ended. With the release, Louise Troh, Duncan’s fiance who was held at a secret location in Dallas, expressed both relief and grief.
“We are so happy this is coming to an end, and we are so grateful that none of us has shown any sign of illness,” Troh said in a statement, according to Reuters. “We continue to mourn his loss and grieve the circumstances that led to his death, just at the time we thought we were facing a happy future together.”
By court order, Troh, her 13-year-old son, Duncan’s nephew, and a family friend were taken to an undisclosed location with an armed guard inside a gated community, AP reported, following Duncan’s Ebola diagnosis in late September.
The group was among dozens of others whom health officials believed had close enough contact with Duncan following his trip from Liberia to require the three-week quarantine. Twenty-one days is the incubation period for the Ebola virus, the latest outbreak of which began in West Africa earlier this year and has killed more than 4,500 people in the region ever since.
According to AP, officials said Monday that 43 of 48 on their original Ebola watch list have gone through the 21-day period and are now in the clear. Others who cared for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital will stay under watch until Nov. 7. Two nurses –Nina Pham and Amber Vinson – who cared for Duncan there have since been diagnosed with Ebola and are being treated in isolation units.
Duncan took himself to the hospital on Sept. 26, claiming he had a headache and stomach pains. He was sent away with medication for a misdiagnosed sinus infection. Two days later, he was back at Texas Presbyterian with harsher symptoms, including projectile vomiting and diarrhea. He tested positive for Ebola shortly after.
The at times haphazard reaction to Duncan’s symptoms and diagnosis at Texas Presbyterian and, more broadly, from city and state officials has been criticized by some who say proper precautions were not takento avoid spread of the virus.Last week, the nation’s largest nurses’ union alleged erratic protocols at the hospital for handling Ebola.
A lab supervisor who had handled a specimen from Duncan was cleared for Ebola by US health officials on Sunday, but not before causing panic aboard a cruise ship. Out of precaution, the worker reportedly isolated herself on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship with about 4,000 passengers on a seven-day voyage that ended on Sunday in Galveston, Texas. Fears of a possible Ebola carrier barred the boat from docking for a scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, according to AP.
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