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Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize #496907
10/17/14 04:49 AM
10/17/14 04:49 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 68,921
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Ebola scare on Caribbean cruise ship: Woman quarantined in her cabin after coming into contact with infected specimen from ‘patient zero’ at Texas hospital

A healthcare worker is in quarantine aboard a Caribbean cruise ship after it was revealed she handled a lab specimen from America's Ebola 'patient zero'.

The woman, who is an employee of the Texas Presbyterian Hospital, has agree to remain isolated while on the vessel and is is being monitored for any signs of infection.

Although she did not come into direct contact with Thomas Eric Duncan - the Ebola-infected man who died of the disease - she may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from him.

Obama administration officials say that 'out of an abundance of caution' the State Department is working with a country they will not identify to secure their transportation home.

It has also been revealed that Belize is refusing to allow the ship or any of its thousands of passengers into port due to fears over Ebola. Local Belizean news reports stated that the Carnival Cruise ship Magic has been kept offshore after the government learned that one of the passengers may have been in contact with the deadly virus.

A government statement said it was acting out of an 'abundance of caution' after being contacted by officers of the US Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola.

It said the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case, but added: 'Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.'

A physician aboard the cruise ship had said the passenger in quarantine was in good health and has shown no symptoms of the deadly disease.

It has been 19 days since the woman may have processed samples of fluids from Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, who died from the deadly disease on October 8 after contracting the virus in Liberia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incubation period - the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms - of Ebola is 2 to 21 days.

Caribbean countries have been among the first to close their borders to travelers from Ebola hotspots, with four nations laying down bans.

Jamaica has joined Colombia, Guyana and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia as countries denying entry to travelers who recently visited the Ebola-affected nations.

Jamaica's travel ban extends to 'persons ordinarily resident in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as persons who have traveled to or transited through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, within 28 days of having departed from these countries,' the government said. The U.S. government has said it is working to return the healthcare worker aboard to cruise ship and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise.

'The employee did not have direct contact' with Mr Duncan, a State Department statement said, 'but may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from him'.

'The individual was out of the country before being notified of the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) updated requirements for active monitoring,' her statement said.

'At the time the hospital employee left the country, CDC was requiring only self-monitoring.'

Two nurses who were treating Mr Duncan have also been diagnosed with Ebola.

But both Nina Pham and Amber Vinson are thought to be in stable condition after treatment for the deadly virus.

The latest statistics from WHO show that the worst-ever Ebola epidemic has already claimed nearly 4,500 lives, with the vast majority of the fatalities in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The deadly virus has also reached Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States but outbreaks have been contained so far.

Ebola is spread through close contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed. For this reason healthcare workers wear protective gloves, fully-body suits and masks.

WHO says blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once patients are severely ill and the whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.


Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty] #496943
10/17/14 12:19 PM
10/17/14 12:19 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 68,921
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

The Government of Belize, at about 10:43 tonight, issued a press release confirming information received by Amandala earlier this evening that a female passenger aboard a cruise ship, Carnival Magic, may have had contact with the Ebola virus, and the American government had sent an air bus to transport her out of Belize and back to the US.

The woman, a lab technician, reportedly was one of about 70 workers who came in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who traveled from Liberia to the United States infected with the Ebola virus, and died at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday at 7:51 a.m. after he was treated with an experimental drug.

Amandala was told that the woman was accompanied on the cruise ship by her husband.

Reports to us are that the woman and her husband were put in quarantine aboard the ship, which was anchored in the Belize City Harbour. It is not known how the woman was allowed to leave the US, in light of the possibility that she may have been exhibiting symptoms of the Ebola virus.

The American air ambulance landed at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) between 7:00 and 8:00 tonight, Thursday.

Some reports say that no one came off the ship, Carnival Magic, one of Carnival Cruise’s dream line ships that were constructed in 2011, but credible reports to us are that a number of passengers did leave the ship for prearranged tours in Belize.

The unofficial reports Amandala has received all say, however, that the woman and her husband did not leave the ship, which was scheduled to leave our harbour at 4:00 p.m. today.

Credible reports reaching us tonight are that Prime Minister Dean Barrow was put under severe pressure by the US to allow the couple to be taken off the cruise ship and transported to the PGIA to board the waiting air ambulance.

The Prime Minister, we understand, held his ground and refused to allow the couple to leave the ship, and the plane, at about 9:00 tonight, left the PGIA without the two Americans. It is not known whether the other passengers on the ship knew that the two passengers were under surveillance by US medical authorities.

In any case, PM Barrow, we were told, ordered the ship to leave Belizean waters “within the hour,” which would be at about 9:00 p.m., about the same time the US plane was leaving empty at the PGIA.

GOB’s release of tonight said that “The Government of Belize was contacted today by officers of the US Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered a very low risk for Ebola. The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness. The Ebola virus may only be spread by patients who are experiencing fever and symptoms of illness and so the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case.

“Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Philip Goldson International Airport.

The GOB reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize.”

The cruise ship left Texas, according to an online schedule, on Sunday, and the itinerary included a stop in Cozumel, Mexico, before it headed to Belize.


Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty] #496967
10/18/14 05:04 AM
10/18/14 05:04 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 68,921
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Belize Refused Carnival Passengers With Ebola Concerns

Belize's Ebola Scare Prompts Press Conference

Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty] #497012
10/19/14 03:53 AM
10/19/14 03:53 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 68,921
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Read this for an overview of what is was like on the Ebola Cruise - from those who are there:

It was supposed to be an escape to the Caribbean sunshine for a week of partying, relaxation, and sipping champagne while watching gorgeous sunsets from the decks of a luxury cruise ship.

But four days after the Carnival Magic set sail from Galveston, Texas rumours began swirling that all was not well on board.

The ship, complete with a swimming pool, an array of water slides, and a giant cinema screen, inexplicably stopped off the coast of Belize and the whispers began.

"The rumours were going round - we were stuck in the mud. Someone's been kidnapped," said one passenger.

As the theories got wilder over the clink of cocktail glasses at the bar, no-one imagined they were actually about to be at the centre of an international Ebola scare.

Finally, the captain confirmed on the loudspeaker that, among their number, was a woman who worked as a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

She had processed clinical samples from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Mr Duncan, 42, died on Oct 8, four days before the ship sailed.

The lab supervisor, and her husband, were voluntarily quarantined in their cabin as fear spread on the ship, which is due to arrive back in Galveston on Sunday.

Passenger Jon Malone said there was "utter panic" on board, adding: "People are scared. I've seen people crying. You're using the same buffet line as someone else, the same waiters, the folks that clean the state rooms.

"If someone was cleaning their state room and cleaned yours right after, the exposure that you have there to's very tight quarters and a lot of interaction.

"It's really difficult to control any type of virus that's on a cruise ship. It's like a floating petri dish. It spreads very rapidly. They're cleaning elevators. I've seen people with pink liquid cleaning the bar area and the handrails."

His brother Jeremy Malone said: "You see a ton of people that are crying, and then there are folks that are having a drink."

Outside his room on the 11th floor Jeremy Malone saw up to 40 workers with cleaning fluids and wearing masks.

He said: "There was a lot of folks who clean the state rooms with buckets and chemicals and people in masks were running around the ship."

As word of an Ebola scare spread so many passengers tried to call home that all they could get on mobile devices was a busy signal, and the internet crashed.

One passenger, who gave his name as Michael, was able to get through to CNN by telephone. He said: "Obviously our concern is where is this person is on the ship and what kind of set up do they have to care for them? I can't imagine it's a completely quarantined area. They have not told us at all where the person is.

"My wife has medication for a kidney transplant, she's susceptible to getting something a little easier than the rest of us, and we don't know where this person has been on the ship."

The passenger said he first realised something was wrong when he looked on a map of the ship's course on his television.

He said: "We were supposed to put into a port and I noticed that we were pulling away from the port. The captain finally came on and said we couldn't get permission to port.

"That's when everything hit the fan here and we realised we were quarantined.

"There were all kind of rumours. They never really said Ebola, they said 'symptoms,' they kept it somewhat vague but everyone knew what they were talking about."

The lab supervisor boarded the Carnival Magic, which carries 3,690 passengers and up to 1,367 crew, in Galveston, on Oct 12.

She had not been placed under any travel restrictions by the hospital, or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both have been criticised for not telling health workers who had contact with Mr Duncan to stay home.

The woman on the ship was only required to self-monitor her temperature daily to see if she had developed a fever.

After seeing news reports about two nurses who worked at the hospital - Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29 - being diagnosed with Ebola she decided to report herself to the captain, and self-quarantine by staying inside her cabin.

The ship then applied to go drop her off in a port in Belize so she could be flown back to Texas, but the Belize govenment refused.

Dean Barrow, the country's prime minister, refused a personal appeal from US Secretary of State John Kerry to send a helicopter to pick her up from the Carnival Magic and take her to a plane waiting at an airport in Belize.

Mr Barrow said: "It is clear, even in the US with all their capacity, with all their expertise, there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to how this thing gets transmitted. Their response, their approach, their treatment of the issue, seems to be a work in progress."

In a statement his government said: "The passenger never set foot in Belize. When even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people."

Asked about Belize's refusal to accept the passenger, a US State Department spokeswoman said: "We think it could probably have been handled differently."

The Carnival Magic then sailed on to Mexico where it had been scheduled to dock int he port of Cozumel. it was hoped the woman could be airlifted from there, but again it was not allowed into port.

"I'm on the Carnival ship with the Ebola scare. Mexican authorities not allowing us into Cozumel. Heading back to Galveston," Eric Lupher, a passenger who works as a reporter for ABC7 in Denver, Colorado, said in a post on Twitter.

Mr Lupher described how fear began spreading among the passengers on Thursday night.

He said: "We were about five miles off the shore of Belize just sitting in the boat in the ocean, not knowing what was going on. The boat wasn't moving. It was like that for several hours. Then we started moving in the middle of the night.

"More than 12 hours later we were told this person was on the ship. The captain came on the loudspeaker and told us what was going on. He never said the word Ebola, but everyone knew. On the elevators, people were talking about it. And a lot of people were upset about it."

Up to that point, he said, "the party just kind of kept going. The pools were open, the slides were open, people were still eating at the buffet, touching areas that everybody touches. There's a lot of concern over communication."

Mr Lupher said the issue that most worried passengers was how they would be treated when they arrive in port in Texas.

He said: "There is a lot of concern over what's going to happen when we get back to Galveston. It's our understanding we're just going to get off the boat and go home - but is that really going to happen?"

Mr Lupher posted a photograph on Twitter of people still lining up for food on the ship. He said: "Despite Ebola scare...people still eating at the buffet."

Another passenger, a teenage girl called Delaney, joked on social media that the Carnival Magic was "stuck in mud". She said: Nothing like Mexico not even letting us on land. At least I have chocolate cake and Dr Pepper..."

Carnival Cruise Lines distributed a letter to passengers telling them: "At this time the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew.

"It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution."

The maximum incubation period for Ebola is 21 days and it has been very nearly that long since the woman handled Mr Duncan's samples, showing no symptoms, so it is likely she is out of danger.

Carnival offered compensation of $200 per passenger to those on board, and a 50 per cent discount on future cruises, as an apology for missing the Mexican stop.

A spokesman said: "We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests."

The US State Department said it was working with the cruise line to "safely bring them back to the United States out of an abundance of caution."

More than 4,500 people have died so far in the world's largest ever outbreak of Ebola in West Africa

The World Health Organisation has warned that the infection rate could reach 10,000 a week by early December.

Rachelle Cohorn, a medical worker, said: "It feels like a ghost town.No one is even walking around the hospital."

US President Barack Obama warned against panic as the country was swept by a series of false alarms.

Those included one at the Pentagon where an entrance was closed and Ebola precautions enacted after a woman was sick in a car park. No evidence was found that she was suffering from Ebola.

In his weekly address to the American people Mr Obama said: "What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America. This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear."

Mr Obama also said he would not be introducing a ban on air travel into the US from West Africa, despite many calls to do so.

He said: "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse.

"Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track."

-- The Telegraph

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