CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – NBC News has identified the patient being treated for Ebola in Dallas. Thomas Duncan flew from Liberia in West Africa to Dallas on September 19th to visit family.
Duncan’s been in hospital isolation since Sunday. He is listed in serious but stable condition. Duncan said part of that journey was aboard a United Airlines flight.
CDC Health officials say there is no risk of infection among other passengers because Duncan had no symptoms when he flew.
This Ebola case has left many questioning what, if any, restrictions should be in place for flights coming into the United States; 22News explains the growing fear of international travel, and international travelers, and what’s being done to protect us.
Now many residents are facing a fear of flight. Joshua Mitera of Chicopee told 22News, “Even when you have a common cold, people on a plane are more susceptible to catch it. So, there should be some type of screening done.”
The CDC has implemented prevention and screening measures at major airports in West Africa, where the virus has already taken more than 3-thousand lives. However, the problem is for anyone who becomes infected with Ebola, it could take as long as three weeks for that person to show any signs or symptoms; meaning they could essentially bypass those screening measures and be cleared to fly into the U.S.
Marcus Lee of Springfield said, “I believe that’s the most horrifying scenario, that incubation period when it can be up to three weeks. I think when you get back you have due diligence. You’ve got to get checked.”
On September 11th, the CDC issued a level 3 travel warning that’s still in place; asking residents to only fly to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, in an emergency.
Victoria Shay of Agawam told 22News her friend actually traveled to Africa, and contracted Ebola. “Being violently sick and almost dying because of dehydration. It was pretty terrifying hearing about it and amazing that she’s still standing here.”
Still, she says she trusts the CDC to contain it. “As soon as there’s a trace of any kind of virus, they usually take care of it pretty quickly.”
Unfortunately, Ebola is now starting to affect airline companies. Shares of major carriers fell between 2-4% on Wednesday.
Governor Patrick said there is, quote “a very, very low risk” of the disease spreading in Massachusetts. The state Public Health Department said either way, they are prepared to handle Ebola.
The United States military is also taking action in West Africa, sending troops to fight the Ebola outbreak. The U.S. is sending some 3-thousand soldiers to the region to build treatment centers and train local medics. Around half will be based in Liberia, with the rest providing logistical support outside of the country.
Although the U.S. is trying to do all it can to prevent any further spread of the disease, some residents think sending troops is not the solution. “Sending more people is probably just going to bring it over here even more so why not just send medical supplies and help people instead of sending more troops over,” said Sean Herbert of West Springfield.
The American General in charge of the mission in Liberia said the U.S. was planning to build and supply 17 Ebola treatment units across the country.