Quarantine Ending For 43 People In Contact With U.S. Ebola Victim Host Audie Cornish speaks to NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce about the end of the 21-day monitoring period for the 43 people who had come into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan.
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Quarantine Ending For 43 People In Contact With U.S. Ebola Victim

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Quarantine Ending For 43 People In Contact With U.S. Ebola Victim

Quarantine Ending For 43 People In Contact With U.S. Ebola Victim

Quarantine Ending For 43 People In Contact With U.S. Ebola Victim

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Host Audie Cornish speaks to NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce about the end of the 21-day monitoring period for the 43 people who had come into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're also learning that another American, who was treated for the disease, was released yesterday from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The man, who has not been named, contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Meanwhile in Dallas, a collective sigh of relief - dozens of people who had been under observation thereafter potential exposure are deemed officially Ebola free.

GEORGE MASON: Today is a jubilant today for them. They are really looking forward to getting out and resuming their live.

CORNISH: That's the Reverend George Mason speaking to reporters this morning. He's the pastor to fiancee of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died in Dallas of Ebola. A total of 43 people have been cleared, but there are still others. And for more on that, we turn to NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce. Hey there, Nell.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: Hello.

CORNISH: So I said there are others, but just how many people are still being monitored and followed?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, when the Texas State Health Department said that those people who last had contact with Mr. Duncan on September 28 were cleared, they said that about 128 more people were still being monitored. And then in Ohio, where nurse Amber Vincent visited family, the State Health Department says 142 people are being followed. So there's a variety of different people in those groups. You have healthcare workers who were in Mr. Duncan's room or who handled his clinical samples. There were people who were on the planes that Amber Vincent took to Cleveland and back. A small number who were identified as having seats within three feet of her have been told to stay at home. And so there are a small number of people who have been quarantined, but others are being actively monitored by officials. Others are doing self-monitoring and are just told to call in if any symptoms like fever develop.

CORNISH: There was a lot of focus on that apartment complex where Duncan may have stayed, though people there have not gotten sick. But is there any sense that that's alleviated fears?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Some people say yes. The public should be reassured by this - that people who are living with him at the time that he was ill have not come down with the illness. They say that this shows that Ebola is not easy to catch. But there's still a lot of fear out there were and still a lot of questions about how exactly the two nurses got infected. Officials seem to be reassessing what kind of protective gear is best for healthcare workers, and they seem to be about to issue new recommendations. But among the public, it seems like there's still a certain amount of fear of Ebola and the unknown.

CORNISH: You talked about new recommendations but how else are officials trying to address these fears?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, you see things like the appointment of the Ebola czar. Ron Klain is to start work on Wednesday. And he's supposed to coordinate the government effort on Ebola, which some people have felt has had a lot of missed steps. But sometimes the things the government does to reassure the public seems to have the potential to have kind of the opposite effect.

CORNISH: What you mean by that? Give an example.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, this weekend for example, we saw a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter go out to a cruise ship. This was to get a blood sample from a lab worker who'd handled specimens from Thomas Eric Duncan when he was hospitalized. Now, this passenger was not having any symptoms. She was isolated in her cabin. Public health experts I've talked to don't understand why this testing had to be done and why it had to be done while she was still at sea. Health officials in Texas told me that they did it to reassure the passengers on the ship, but, you know, some people might say well, if people are not contagious when they have no symptoms, you know, why was this testing necessary? So, you know, questions can be raised by actions that are intended to be sort of extra precautions. And there's this balance between reassuring the public and doing so much that you kind of add to the crisis.

CORNISH: And with these incidents, there's been so much focus on the U.S. - of course West Africa remains the epicenter of the disease. Can you give us an update on what's going on there?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Yes. So in the U.S., there are two people who got Ebola here - both nurses. The nation's transfixed, and meanwhile in Africa, were approaching nearly 10,000 people who've been sickened. And they're in Africa, and the death rate from this disease is 70 percent.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce. Nell, thanks so much.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Thank you.

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