How was this guy allowed to board the plane? Furthermore, why haven’t travel restrictions on these ebola ‘hotspot’ countries been put in place? It’s clear whatever policies they have now are not working.
It appears an act of compassion led Thomas Eric Duncan to contract Ebola, and become the first patient diagnosed with the deadly disease on U.S. soil.
Just four days before he boarded a plane bound for Dallas, Texas, Duncan helped carry his landlord’s convulsing pregnant daughter to a Liberian clinic to be treated for Ebola, The New York Times reports.
The woman, named by The Times as 19-year-old Marthalene Williams died the next day, after being turned away from the overcrowded hospital that didn’t have room for her.
The landlord’s son and three neighbors who came in contact with the woman also died soon afterwards.
But Mr Duncan wasn’t showing any symptoms when he arrived at a Monrovia airport on September 19, and therefore was allowed on a flight out of Liberia bound for the U.S.
Current policy dictates that only those displaying symptoms of the disease are barred from flying. But Ebola can hide in the system for up to 21 days, raising serious concerns the disease will start turning up around the world.
In Liberia, Mr Duncan worked moving cargo for FedEx, but had recently quit his job when he acquired a visa to visit the U.S. where his son reportedly lives.
He is one of an estimated 13,500 people from the Ebola hot-spot countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia who currently hold visas to visit the U.S. and could possibly spread the outbreak.
However, that estimate takes into account all people from these West African countries who are already in the U.S., and those who have been to America and since returned home. It’s still uncertain the exact number of visas waiting to be used for travel to the U.S.
There are now calls to restrict travel between affected countries and the U.S., but the White House has deemed the move unecessary.
‘It would be reasonable [for the president] to designate Ebola as a communicable disease of public health significance. That would enable the State Department to impose tighter restrictions on visitors’ from these countries, Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies told the Daily Caller.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that there was no change in airline policy since Ebola can only be spread when symptoms are present, and that there are only policies in place to stop these carriers from boarding flights
However, the U.S. wouldn’t be the first to institute a policy stopping travel from these West African nations. Namibia, Kenya and Zambia have already barred or restricted travel from these three Ebola-stricken countries, and many airlines have stopped travel there as a precaution.
What’s perhaps the most frightening is the fact that Mr Duncan submitted himself to the hospital when he first started feeling sick, and was initially sent home with antibiotics even though he told hospital workers that he had recently arrived from Liberia.
He then spent two days getting sicker and sicker in a Dallas apartment, coming in contact with several family members, before he went back to the hospital and was finally diagnosed with Ebola.