With thousands dying of ebola virus in Africa, one would think decontamination in Dallas is Priority #1. But bureaucracy has a way of dragging its feet, and then resorting to spinning a tale. That’s what has been happening in the case of Thomas E. Duncan and his spreading of the deadly virus. Clean-up of his ebola contaminated apartment has been delayed. Now school children, public health workers, and document servers are being affected, to name only a few of those potentially at risk.
The following are excerpts from CNN’s latest report:
Four days after Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, the apartment where he stayed has not been sanitized, a cleaning crew contracted to do the job said.
Duncan was in Dallas visiting his son and his son’s mother, his half-brother, Wilfred Smallwood, said [in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
Duncan’s partner, who asked to be referred to only by her first name, Louise, along with her son and two nephews in their 20s, are in isolation at the apartment, which still has the sheets, clothes and towels Duncan used.
A plan to sanitize the apartment was delayed late Thursday.
Brad Smith of the Cleaning Guys, which was hired to sanitize the apartment, said his company is ready to go but a permit issue has stopped them from entering the home. Smith says a specialized permit, which is handled by the state government, is needed to transport this type of unprecedented hazardous waste on Texas highways. Cleaning Guys specializes in hazmat and biohazard cleaning services, but it does not transport the materials.
It’s unclear how long it will take to get the proper permits.
“This is a unique situation,” Smith said. “Once awarded, our hazmat teams will be allowed back inside to do their jobs.”
Louise told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she used bleach to clean her apartment, “but it’s not clear to me how systematic the cleaning was,” Cooper said.
Ebola can spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids like blood, feces or vomit.
Where are the students?
On Wednesday, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles said five school-age children who attended four different schools had come into contact with Duncan and were being monitored at home for Ebola symptoms.
It is unclear if the young boy quarantined with Louise is one of those children, or how the five students came in contact with Duncan.
On Thursday, district spokesman Andre Riley told CNN that one of those students went to Sam Tasby Middle School on Wednesday
“We’re not sure why the Tasby student showed up for school on Wednesday but, once he was identified, he was asked to go to the nurse’s office so that a parent could be contacted,” Riley said in an email. “During the limited time he was on campus, he showed no symptoms.”
The students have been asked not to attend school “out of an abundance of caution,” Riley said.
Dozens may have had contact with him
Health officials are reaching out to as many as 100 people who may have had contact with Duncan while he was contagious, a Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman said Wednesday. They are being questioned because they may have crossed paths with the patient.
So far, no one who had contact with him has shown any signs of Ebola, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
The number of direct contacts who have been identified and are being monitored right now is “more than 12,” a federal official told CNN.
Monitoring means a public health worker visits the contacts twice a day to take temperatures and to ask if they are experiencing any symptoms.
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