Published On: Fri, Oct 17th, 2014

This is how the Ebola virus could spread in the Caribbean

Ebola virusWILLEMSTAD – The Washington Post reports about a Texas hospital worker quarantine on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

A Texas health-care worker who “may have” handled lab specimens from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has been isolated on board a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean. The worker has shown no symptoms of the disease, according to Carnival, which said it is in close contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Washington Post also reports that a Carnival spokeswoman said the guest, who was not named, will remain on board in voluntary isolation until the ship returns to its home port of Galveston on Sunday.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee and a partner boarded the ship Oct. 12 in Galveston, Texas, before the CDC updated the requirement for active monitoring, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Although the worker is healthy, the U.S. government is working with the cruise line to get the ship back to America “out of an abundance of caution.”

The employee, who has not been named, did not come into direct contact with Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. However, he or she may have been exposed to his clinical specimens, the U.S. State Department said.

“It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed” Duncan’s fluid samples, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement early this morning. “The cruise line has actively supported CDC’s efforts to speak with the individual, whom the cruise ship’s medical doctor has monitored and confirmed was in good health. Following this examination, the hospital employee and traveling partner voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin,” the Washington Post reports.

The Government of various countries in the Caribbean are taking measures to ensure the security of their nation against this devastating virus that has taken the lives of thousands, especially in West African countries.

Various organizations here in Curaçao indicated that the chances for this virus to appear on the island is almost zero, but this example, reported by the Washington Post, shows that it is possible and that the Government must be prepared for this virus.

Belizean news reports stated that the cruise ship Carnival Magic was offshore after the government of Belize learned that a U.S. hospital worker on board may have been exposed to Ebola and that the Belize Coast Guard was deployed to prevent anyone from leaving the ship. The government of Belize assured its citizens that the health-care professional “never set foot in Belize.”

A Carnival spokeswoman, however, said the ship made its scheduled visit to Belize Thursday. “Passengers were free to disembark there for the day other than the guest and her traveling companion who are in voluntary isolation.”

In its own statement Thursday, the Belize government said it “was contacted today by officers of the U.S. Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola…. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.”

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