A hazardous-materials crew on Friday
decontaminated the Texas apartment where an Ebola
patient was staying when he got sick, while public-health
officials cut by half the number of people being monitored
for any symptoms of the deadly disease.
Hours later, the family that was living in the apartment
was moved to a private residence in a gated community
that was offered by a volunteer.
The decontamination team was to collect bed sheets,
towels and a mattress used by the infected man before he
was hospitalized, as well as a suitcase and other personal
items belonging to Thomas Eric Duncan, officials said.
The materials were sealed in industrial barrels that were to
be stored in trucks until they can be hauled away for
Federal transportation and disease-control officials issued
an emergency special permit on Friday to allow an Illinois-
based company to haul away and dispose of the materials
- not only from the apartment but also any from the
hospital where Duncan is receiving treatment.
The first Ebola diagnosis in the US has raised concerns
about whether the disease that has killed 3 400 people in
West Africa could spread in the US Federal health officials
say they are confident they can keep it in check.
Elsewhere, NBC News reported that an American freelance
cameraman working for the network in Liberia has tested
positive for the virus and will be flown back to the United
States, along with the rest of the news crew.
Neighbours stood on their balconies and watched the
family's grim departure from behind a black tarp hung to
shield their front door from view.
The family was placed in a Dallas County deputy's patrol
car and driven away, apparently leaving with nothing
more than the clothes they wore.
The residence where they will stay had been offered only a
short time earlier. Until then, a search for shelter had
come up short. The city had been refused by hotels,
apartments and other providers.
"No one wants this family," said Sana Syed, a Dallas city
The family was confined to their home under armed guard
while public-health officials monitored them - part of an
intense effort to contain the deadly disease before it can
get a foothold in the United States.
Louise Troh, originally from Liberia, shares the apartment
with her 13-year-old son and two nephews.
When the decontamination is complete, even the crew's
protective suits are to be burned, said Tamara Smith, office
manager for the Cleaning Guys of Fort Worth.
Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County's top administrative
official, said he went to the apartment with two
epidemiologists to apologize for the delay in removing the
soiled items, which happened five days after Duncan was
admitted to the hospital.
"I want to see this family treated the way I would want to
see my own family treated," Jenkins said.
The confinement order, which also bans visitors, was
imposed after the family failed to comply with a request
to stay home.
Also Friday, Texas health officials said they had narrowed
the number of people they were monitoring from as many
as 100 to about 50 who had some type of exposure to
Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey said all 50 are
meeting with health workers and having their temperatures
taken daily. So far, none shows symptoms of the virus.
Ten are considered to be at higher risk and are being
monitored more closely.
The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can only
be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids -
blood, sweat, vomit, faeces, urine, saliva or semen - of an
infected person who is showing symptoms.
Troh's 35-year-old daughter lives a few blocks away in a
small apartment with her partner and four children. The
two families often visited each other's homes.
Health officials have told Youngor Jallah to keep her
family at home. But unlike at her mother's apartment,
there are no armed guards preventing them from leaving.
She's now wracked with regret that she did not take
greater precautions in her dealings with Duncan.
"I'm just doubting myself every minute," she said Friday in
an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm trying to take
my mind off it, but I can't do it."
She is not kissing or hugging her children, ages 2, 4 and 6,
or her partner's 11-year-old son, or sharing dishes with
Duncan arrived in Dallas on 20 September and fell ill a few
days later. After an initial visit to the emergency room at
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, he was sent home,
even though he told a nurse he had been in disease-
ravaged West Africa.
He returned to the hospital two days later, on Sunday, and
has been kept in isolation ever since. He's listed in serious
but stable condition.