(DALLAS) — The first group of people quarantined and monitored after close contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has been cleared, with the 21-day monitoring period passing for 48 people. Duncan’s relatives and fiancée Louise Troh are among those who faced monitoring because of Duncan’s diagnosis.
As officials continue to monitor dozens of others who came in contact with Duncan, the U.S. Department of Defense is assembling a 30-member medical support team made up of critical-care nurses, infectious disease doctors and disease protocol trainers. Those medical workers are able to offer short-term help should more Ebola cases arise.
Dallas County Administrator Clay Jenkins said the 21-day milestone was important.
“After 21 days of being on this watch list, there is zero chance that any of those young men or Louise carry the Ebola virus,” Jenkins said. “They need love and compassion and acceptance.”
Troh released a statement to ABC News Sunday expressing sadness in Duncan’s Oct. 8 death.
“We continue to mourn his loss and grieve the circumstances that led to his death, just at the time we thought we were facing a happy future together,” she said in the statement.
Duncan’s family also recognized nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who contracted Ebola while administering care to Duncan.
“Our hearts also go out to the two brave women who have been infected by this terrible disease as they were trying to help him,” the statement reads.
One of those nurses, Amber Vinson, is in stable condition at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, able to communicate with her parents. Her family released a statement to ABC News Sunday, stating that Vinson contacted health officials after Pham was diagnosed with Ebola, asking whether precautionary arrangements could be made for her return to Dallas.
“Amber was particularly concerned considering that Ms. Pham, being a capable nurse who followed the same Dallas county mandates, had become infected,” the statement reads. “Officials assured Amber that her concerns were unfounded because her temperatures were within the appropriate measures and asymptomatic in all other areas.”
Vinson asked whether she could reside at Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital during her 21-day monitoring period, her family says.
“She was told that this was the first request of its kind, but that the agency would consider the option,” the statement reads.
One day after landing in Dallas on Oct. 13, Vinson reported a temperature of 100.3 degrees and admitted herself to the hospital.
Pham, the other nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Duncan, is listed in fair condition at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, fighting fatigue, doctors say.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on This Week Sunday, saying Pham remains in good spirits.
“We’d been with her now for three days,” he said. “I feel strongly that she’s going to do well, but you never say never until I walk out of that building with her and talk to you about it.”
Meanwhile, the Carnival Magic cruise ship — carrying a health care worker who handled Duncan’s specimens — reached the port of Galveston in Texas. The worker had been self-quarantined on the ship and hadn’t shown signs of the deadly virus for 19 days, officials said.
One passenger on the ship, Chris Perry, said the experience reminded him of the AIDS scare in the late 1980s, “Where people were just fearful of anybody around it.”
“Outside of that, you know, once everybody kind of started understanding, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” Perry said.
Passenger John Cascio said he was not too concerned.
“I really wasn’t worried about it,” Cascio said. “I knew they would take care of what’s supposed to be taken care of.”
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