TSA officer who patted down Ebola patient Amber Vinson in Cleveland is now watching for symptoms
Doctor calls allegations of lax care due to patient's status and race "remarkably insulting"
Belize refuses to let Dallas lab supervisor aboard cruise ship come ashore
She is symptom free, but State Department wanted to fly her back to the U.S.
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As questions continue to swirl about how to deal with the ever-growing fears of Ebola, relatives of the first person to be diagnosed with the deadly virus in the United States gathered to grieve Saturday.
Wiping tears from their eyes, family and friends of Thomas Eric Duncan told CNN affiliate Time Warner Cable News Charlotte he was a “compassionate and respectful young man.”
As relatives said their final farewells to Duncan, a Liberian national and father of four, at Rowan International Church in Salisbury, North Carolina, they wanted him to be remembered for his acts of kindness, “as opposed to the person who brought this disease to America because he didn’t know he was sick,” said nephew Josephus Weeks.
Duncan, 42, died earlier this month at a hospital in Dallas. His mother and other relatives live in North Carolina.
This week, a Central American country closed its borders to anyone who has been anywhere near the disease. And an airline scrambled to inform hundreds passengers that they had been on a plane that carried someone who has since come down with Ebola.
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked the government of Belize to help evacuate a Dallas hospital worker from a cruise ship off its coast on Friday, officials declined to let her on shore.
The employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was a lab supervisor and did not have direct contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died there while being treated for Ebola. But she may have had contact with one of his specimens, the U.S. State Department said.
A doctor on the Carnival cruise ship has declared her symptom-free and in good health. Still, the lab supervisor and a travel partner have undergone voluntary isolation as a precaution.
Belize slaps travel, visa bans
It’s been 20 days since she perhaps handled Duncan’s fluid samples – the maximum incubation period for Ebola is 21 days.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, a U.S. Coast Guard confirms to CNN a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew to the Carnival cruise, lowered a hoist basket, and picked up the lab technician’s blood samples.
“The samples which are in a container, so the USCG members are not exposed, were then taken by Carnival’s on board doctor,” said Petty Officer Andy Kendrick, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.
“The test results are expected back, before the Carnival Magic arrives in Galveston tomorrow morning,” said Kendrick. “If results aren’t ready, health officials will be at the port to make sure the woman is not showing any symptoms, before allowing her to get off the ship.”
But as sure as it may seem that lab professional is Ebola-free, the State Department wanted to fly her back to the United States – purely out of caution – from Belize City’s airport.
Instead, the cruise ship is hauling her back to Galveston.
On top of the no-go, Belize’s government has slapped visa and travel bans this week on citizens of affected West African countries and announced more strict measures.
“Also, any person of whatever nationality wishing to travel to Belize who has visited any affected area of West Africa within the last 30 days will be prohibited from entering Belize,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
Cruise ship passengers will be vetted before being allowed to go on land.
Leave no stone unturned is the approach Frontier Airlines is taking, after a passenger came down with Ebola. It is telling up to 800 passengers to contact the CDC.
Most of them weren’t on flights with Amber Vinson, the second Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola after helping treat Duncan.
Vinson flew to Cleveland on October 10 and back to Dallas on October 13.
In an effort to further quarantine the deadly virus, the Ohio Department of Health, upped the ante on specific Ebola monitoring requirements on Saturday for those potentially affected by the deadly virus.
Ohio health officials Saturday increased the number of people being monitored from 16 to 29. These people were in the vicinity of Vinson or had contact with her. They include people who were in a bridal shop she visited. One of them was a “close contact” and is under quarantine, according to DiOrio. All are healthy.
The new measures include daily health monitoring by a local health department official and those being monitored “cannot leave the United States due to the inability to track them down in the event they fail to meet their daily reporting requirements,” the statement read.
“We’re taking an aggressive approach, no doubt about it, but it’s just common sense. Some might criticize us for being too aggressive, but we’re comfortable taking that criticism,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, state epidemiologist and interim chief of the ODH Bureau of Prevention and Health Promotion in statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said she could have had symptoms during that time.
The TSA says an officer who patted down Vinson on October 13 in Cleveland has been placed on paid administrative leave “out of an abundance of caution.”
“A Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Transportation Security Administration Officer who conducted a routine pat-down of a traveler later reported to be infected with Ebola consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the TSA said in a statement. “No Cleveland TSA officer came in direct contact with the infected traveler, as all pat downs are completed while employees are wearing disposable medical gloves,” the statement continued.
The TSA holds firm that the employee is not reporting any symptoms and was instructed by CDC to self-monitor over the next few days, as a precautionary measure.
DiOrio told reporters that 87 state residents in the flights were self-monitoring for symptoms of Ebola.
The CDC would like people who were on either flight to get in touch with them to answer some questions and potentially undergo monitoring, although it says the risk to anyone was extremely low.
But Frontier, as an extra precaution, included anyone who had been on subsequent flights that used the same plane as the one on her return flight.
Frontier has also taken that plane out of service.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich went so far on Saturday as calling for a travel ban for countries affected by the deadly Ebola outbreak.
No Ohio airport currently has direct flights to or from the affected nations in West Africa.
“I would say I think it makes sense to have (a) ban in place,” he told reporters. “The President of the United States has to make that call. He has to listen to many different people. And I have no doubt in my mind they’re considering this now.”
CNN’s Jason Hanna, Greg Botelho and Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.