Ebola Quarantines Issued for New York and New Jersey

Ebola quarantines have been issued for health workers by the governors of New Jersey and New York as of Friday, October 24. Governors Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) are ordering a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other health care workers who have had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa and other regions.

The joint effort comes after a New York City physician, Dr. Craig Spencer, who recently returned to the U.S. last week from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, was diagnosed with the lethal disease on Thursday, October 23. Dr. Spencer has become the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in New York State.

Ebola quarantines have been issued for health workers in New York and New Jersey, who have come into contact with and treated patients infected with the virus, as Governors Christie and Cuomo said the situation prompted them to join forces and conclude the two states needed guidelines more rigorous than those imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which at the current time recommends voluntary quarantines.

Many New Yorkers and health experts were dismayed to learn that since his return from West Africa and during the week before he was hospitalized, Dr. Spencer went out to eat, rode the subway, took a cab, went bowling, and visited a coffee shop. Health officials have not yet disclosed whether or not the physician has had any contact with patients since his return to the United States.

Health officials have said Dr. Spencer has followed U.S. and international protocols in checking his temperature on a daily basis and watching for symptoms of the lethal virus. However, others have said he should have been quarantined upon his return to the U.S.–either voluntarily or via the government–and adhered to the virus’ 21-day protocol and incubation period.

Many medical experts contend a mandatory three-week quarantine period makes sense for anyone “with a clear exposure” to the virus. However, Doctors Without Borders, which was the organization Dr. Spencer was working for in West Africa, said in a statement that would be extreme. The group stressed that people with Ebola are not contagious until symptoms begin, and even when symptomatic, close and direct contact with bodily fluids is required to transmit the virus. Moreover, aid organizations also warned that many health care workers would not go to hot zones areas if they knew they would be confined to their homes for three weeks after their return.

Ebola quarantines have been issued for health workers in New York and New Jersey, who have come into contact with and treated patients infected with the virus, after Dr. Spencer, a 33-year-old NYC emergency room doctor, returned from West Africa on October 17 and later sought treatment on Thursday, October 24 after suffering symptoms of the lethal virus. The physician is the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the state of New York. He is currently in isolation and listed in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. Moreover, a containment unit was also sent to his home in Harlem. His fiancée is also being observed in an isolated unit at Bellevue, however, she has not shown any symptoms to date.

By Leigh Haugh

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