Ebola worries end for dozens on U.S. watch lists

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2014 8:32 AM

DALLAS (Reuters) - Weeks of worries about a possible Ebola infection ended for dozens of people on watch lists in the United States on Monday but scores were still being monitored after potential exposure to the virus, Texas health officials said.

Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the disease in the United States, were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms, the state health department said, while another 120 were still on watch lists.

The end of monitoring for some could help ease widespread anxiety over Ebola in the United States, where some lawmakers have called for a travel ban from West Africa to help control the spread of the virus.

The worst outbreak on record of the virus has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Ebola on Monday after a 42-day period with no new cases, a success story for African nations struggling to contain the virus.

On Sunday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged stronger international action to control the epidemic, saying the disease was unleashing an economic catastrophe that will leave a "lost generation" of young West Africans.

A top U.S. health official said on Sunday the United States would issue strict new guidelines telling American health workers to cover their skin and hair when dealing with Ebola patients after two Dallas nurses who treated Duncan contracted the virus. He died on Oct. 8.

In addition to the new protocols, the U.S. military plans to create an emergency response team of infectious disease doctors, nurses and trainers to help in the event of an Ebola crisis in the United States. The team would not be deployed in West Africa or elsewhere overseas.

(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Writing by Jim Loney; Editing by Doina Chiacu)