Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Family That Hosted Ebola Patient Confined to Home (Copy)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Family That Hosted Ebola Patient Confined to Home (Copy)

Article excerpt

DALLAS * Four members of a family the U.S. Ebola patient was staying with were confined to their Texas home under armed guard Thursday as the circle of people possibly exposed to the virus widened, and Liberian authorities said they would prosecute the man for allegedly lying on an airport questionnaire.

The unusual confinement order was made after the family was "noncompliant" with a request not to leave their apartment, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Texas State Health Commissioner David Lakey said the confinement would help ensure the family can be closely watched, including checking them for fevers over the next three weeks.

"We didn't have the confidence we would have been able to monitor them the way that we needed to," he said.

"It is a delicate balance," Jenkins said when asked whether placing people on virtual lockdown could discourage others from coming forward about possible contacts with Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who officials say is in his mid-40s.

"We're concerned about people feeling there's an overreaction and not coming forward with their contacts," he said. "But we're also concerned with the public losing confidence in the response."

Several days of food have been delivered to the apartment. The family will not be allowed to receive visitors, officials said.

Louise Troh, a woman being held in the east Dallas apartment, says she's tired of being "locked up." Troh said she is "going through stress" being quarantined with her 13-year-old son and nephews.

Officials were concerned about the cleanliness of the home and hired a cleaning service to come, Lakey said. "The house conditions need to be improved," he said.

The infected man's belongings, including clothes and possibly bed sheets, are bagged inside the home so the family cannot come into contact with them until they are removed, Jenkins said.

Elsewhere, Texas health officials expanded their efforts to contain the virus, reaching out to about 100 people who may have had direct contact with Duncan or someone close to him.

So far, nobody, including the ambulance workers who accompanied Duncan to the hospital and the four relatives under confinement orders, has symptoms of Ebola. Five children who were taken out of school Wednesday amid concerns they had contact with Duncan also remain symptom-free.

The group will be monitored to see if anyone seeks medical care during the three weeks immediately following the time of contact, said Erikka Neroes, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Health and Human Services agency.

The group includes 12 to 18 who came in direct contact with the infected man, as well as others known to have had contact with them, she said.

"This is a big spider web" of people involved, Neroes said.

The initial group includes three members of the ambulance crew that took Duncan to the hospital, plus a handful of schoolchildren. …

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