The State Department announced today that a lab supervisor from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who may have handled Ebola-infected fluids is currently aboard a 3,690-passenger Carnival cruise ship somewhere off the coast of Belize. The unnamed woman did not have “direct contact” with Ebola victim Thomas Duncan “but may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from him,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in a statement. And although the hospital worker “has not had a fever or demonstrated any symptoms of illness,” her vacation is pretty much ruined.
“At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew,” said Carnival. “It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution.”
The U.S.“emphasized the very low risk category in this case,” however, “the government of Belize decided not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through [the airport],” the country said in its own statement. It’s already been 19 days out of the recommended 21-day quarantine, but the fact that two nurses at the same hospital were infected doesn’t do much to quell the panic.
“The individual was out of the country before being notified of the C.D.C.’s updated requirements for active monitoring,” said Psaki. “At the time the hospital employee left the country, C.D.C. was requiring only self-monitoring.” And she’d probably already paid for the damn cruise.