Cruise ship passenger declared Ebola free

The cruise ship Carnival Magic which caused quite a stir in Belize last Thursday docked in Galvezton, Texas, early Sunday morning, where the health worker tested negative for the Ebola virus to the relief of all Belizeans.

Monday markede 22 days since the woman, only identified as an employee at Texas Health Presbyterian, could have possibly contracted the virus.

The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) reported that while the woman did not have direct contact with Thomas Duncan, who died of Ebloa on October 8th at the Hospital, it was believed that she might have had contact with his fluids, and so was asked to self-monitor herself for the next three weeks.

She had taken a Caribbean cruise and was in Belizean waters when CDC upgraded its status and “out of an abundance of caution” pressured the Government of Belize on Thursday to have the woman disembark and be transported through the Philip Goldson International Airport.  The Belizean Government refused and is now getting lashed at by some of the international media houses.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer spoke with US State Department’s spokesperson about Belize’s decision.

 

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-07h46m07s166Marie Harf – US State Department Deputy Spokeswoman

“We were disappointed by this.  We think it could have been handled differently.  Decisions like this need to be made based on information and science and not fear. Even though we know this is a very serious disease, serious threat.

The ship is on its way back to Galveston, Texas, right now.  Ut’s expected to dock on Sunday, and obviously we’ll be giving any care to this individual that is needed, and we’ll keep having the conversation with countries, when something like this arises again.”

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Wolf Blitzer – CNN

“So Belize said No.  Mexico said No, too?”

 

Marie Harf

“The next thing Government actually had indicated a willingness too.  There was some discussion among local authorities, the national authorities, but regardless of that, the ship is on its way back to the US. 

Going forward, when cases like this arise, we will have discussions with these governments about what they can do, what we can do, really basing it on the facts here, and how you contain this in a safe way”

 

Wolf Blitzer

“I think it’s fair to say the State Department, and you speak for the State Department, is disappointed, not only in Belize, but also in Mexico.

 

Marie Harf

“I think when it comes to Belize, we made clear that this could have, and should have, been handled differently in our view.  With Mexico, I think it’s a little more complicated.  They did indicate some willingness to let the ship dock there. 

What we’re focussed on now is going forward, not just any one case, but how we can all come together, to really put the world’s efforts behind this.”

 

Wolf Blitzer

“When I heard that Belize wouldn’t even let this one passenger drop off, so the passenger could be flown back, I said Belize… the United States of America can’t just ask Belize to do something, a favor for the United States, and Belize says no to the United States.  That’s pretty shocking.”

 

Marie Harf

“Well again, we think this could have been handled differently, and we know there is a great deal of fear about this, we really do.  We know it’s very serious.  No one is trying to downplay that, but there are procedures that can be put into place to ensure the safe passage of people.”

 

Prior to Carnival Magic docking on Belize and having thousands of tourist passengers disembark onto Belize, excluding the two who were in voluntary isolation, the US Government had requested from Honduras, on Wednesday, to facilitate the necessary transportation for the woman and her partner.

After moving on from Belize, the US government continued to appeal for access to fly the woman back to the US, but the Mexican government refused to let the ship dock at their port.

Upon reaching the port at Galvezton Texas, the ship only docked after receiving clearance from the Health Authorities that the woman’s test results were negative.

Since the woman tested negative for Ebola after the 21 day period, Belizeans can breathe a bit easier after the other passengers on that ship had come in contact with tour guides and other Belizeans when they came onto Belizean land.

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