Ebola may have faded from U.S. headlines lately, but the additional responsibilities its appearance on U.S. shores foisted on healthcare workers became evident Wednesday. Public health officials in New York announced that the city health department, as of Wednesday, is actively monitoring 357 people for signs of Ebola.
A majority of the individuals being watched are travelers who arrived in the city in the past 21 days from the Ebola-affected region of West Africa. Also included are Bellevue Hospital Center staff caring for Dr. Craig Spencer, the Doctors Without Borders physician who was diagnosed with Ebola last month, as well as paramedics who transported him and lab workers who conducted his blood test. None of the individuals being monitored have exhibited symptoms, according to a statement from the health department and the city's Health and Hospitals Corp., which oversees Bellevue and the city's 10 other hospitals.
Though he remains in isolation, Spencer continues to show improvement and is stable, the statement said. It has been almost 14 days since he was diagnosed.
A quarantine has been lifted for an unnamed individual who came into contact with Spencer after he arrived in New York. The individual will now be subject to direct active monitoring, which means that person will be assessed by health department staff twice a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested that direct active monitoring could potentially take place in person or through videoconferencing platforms like Skype or Facetime.
Another individual remains under quarantine. Spencer's fiancée and two friends were the only three individuals initially quarantined in the case.
New York is among several states that have issued stricter mandatory quarantine orders for people who have come into contact with Ebola-infected individuals. In some states, such as Maryland and Virginia, quarantine is required only if an individual had known exposure to the virus, such as through a needle-stick injury.
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