The 48 people who had come in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die of Ebola virus in the US recently, heaved a sigh of relief ad they were finally taken off a watch list, though dozens more are still being monitored by health officials.
Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, and when a case is confirmed officials monitor anyone who had contact with that person for three weeks.
“We are so happy this is coming to an end, and we are so grateful that none of us has shown any sign of illness,” Louise Troh, Duncan’s fiancée and mother to the couple’s son, said in a statement late Sunday. Troh and three other people have been under quarantine, ordered by the government not to go out in public.
None of those who came in contact with Duncan before he was put in isolation have shown signs of contracting the virus.
“[I’m] looking forward to shaking some hands of 48 people who need to get back into society,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Amid the relief, more than 70 health workers who cared for Duncan when he was in isolation remain under watch.
Two nurses at the hospital, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, contracted the deadly virus and have been hospitalized. “They are blameless in this situation,” Jenkins added. “They are victims of Ebola. They are not at fault for contracting this disease in any way.”
Troh’s daughter, Youngor Jallah, who also ended her monitoring period Monday, has stayed in an apartment she shares with her partner and their children, according to The Associated Press.
“I’m telling you, just to step outside will be so great,” she told the AP. “To hug my mom and grieve for Eric, not over the phone like we’ve been doing, but in the flesh.”
The United States will issue strict new guidelines telling American health workers to cover their skin and hair when dealing with Ebola patients, a top health official said on Sunday, while some of the dozens of people being watched for possible exposure to the virus are expected to be cleared.
In Texas, a lab worker who spent much of a Caribbean holiday cruise in isolation tested negative for the deadly virus and left the Carnival Magic liner with other passengers after it docked at Galveston early on Sunday morning.
The worst outbreak on record of the virus has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged stronger international action to control the epidemic, saying on Sunday the disease was unleashing an economic catastrophe that will leave a “lost generation” of young West Africans.