DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Officials are working to get a North Texas health care worker and her husband back into the country. The worker is believed to have handled a laboratory specimen from Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan when he was being cared for at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
But right now, that Dallas health care worker is on a cruise.
The CDC requested that the couple return home from Belize, but reports out of the country indicate that the cruise ship is remaining off-shore, and its passengers are not allowed to disembark. Government officials in Belize are saying that they decided against letting the worker and her husband fly out of one of their airports.
Carnival Cruise Lines and the CDC have decided to keep the couple isolated on the boat until it returns to Galveston on Sunday. The cruise was set to stop in Cozumel on Friday, but did not receive clearance from Mexican authorities. So, instead of making an additional stop, it has proceeded on toward Texas.
The cruise ship left Galveston on October 12, according to a statement released Friday morning by the U.S. Department of State. The employee and her husband were out of the country before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their requirements for active monitoring. They had previously been told that only self-monitoring was required.
The self-monitoring process includes daily temperature checks. The couple is said to be quarantined inside of their cabin, and they are not showing any signs of infection. The health care worker has been self-monitoring since October 6.
The CDC has been in contact with the worker and the ship’s medical doctor has checked on her and her husband, confirming that they are in good health. Officials are now trying to get the couple back into the United States.
It has been 19 days since the employee may have processed Duncan’s fluid samples. She did not have direct contact with the Ebola patient, only his clinical specimens.
The ship is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, which released a statement about the situation on Friday morning. They said that the CDC made them aware of the health care worker and her husband on board the Carnvial Magic late Wednesday afternoon. By their understanding, the couple were said to be “low risk and cleared to travel.”
According to Carnival Cruise Lines, the CDC said that other guests on the ship are not at risk.
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