Date
19 November 2017
Surrounded by medical volunteers, President Barack Obama holds a press conference on Ebola at the White House. He is backing tougher measures for soldiers from Ebola missions but wants less rigid protocols for returning medical personnel.  Photo: Bloomber
Surrounded by medical volunteers, President Barack Obama holds a press conference on Ebola at the White House. He is backing tougher measures for soldiers from Ebola missions but wants less rigid protocols for returning medical personnel. Photo: Bloomber

US toughens quarantine for troops from Ebola missions

American troops returning from Ebola relief missions in West Africa will undergo a mandatory 21-day monitoring period.

United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the quarantine-like regime at the request of top military commanders, Reuters reported Thursday, citing Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Hagel also called for a review of the decision in 45 days to evaluate “whether or not such monitoring should continue based on what we learn and observe from the initial waves of personnel” returning from the West Africa relief mission.

The move expands a policy adopted earlier this week by Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, to all US troops returning from Ebola-affected countries.

Odierno ordered a 21-day isolation period for Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of US Army Africa, and nearly a dozen of his staff when they returned from West Africa to their home base in Vicenza in northeastern Italy.

The isolation period is stricter than what is recommended by US health officials — monitoring but not isolation for people who do not have symptoms of the illness.

The Obama administration has been seeking to dissuade US states from imposing quarantines on doctors, nurses and other health workers returning from West Africa and has resisted political pressure to impose travel bans on people coming from the affected area.

But President Barack Obama appeared to back more rigorous procedures by the military on Tuesday, saying US troops were in a “different situation” from medical volunteers.

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RC/RA

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