Up to 100 people may have had direct or indirect contact with the first person to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States, and four of his relatives have been quarantined in an apartment in Dallas, health officials said on Thursday.
Dallas County officials said 12 to 18 people had direct contact with the patient, who had recently flown in from Liberia, and they in turn had contact with scores of others. Liberia named him as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia.
The worst outbreak of the contagious, hemorrhagic fever on record has killed at least 3,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, overwhelming weak health systems and crippling fragile economies and threatening to cause hunger.
Liberia has recorded nearly 2,000 of those deaths and aid agencies say they need hundreds of beds for patients.
The case in the United States has heightened concerns that Ebola could spread globally and could raise further questions about travel restrictions from the affected countries.
Liberian authorities on Thursday said they could prosecute Duncan if he returned because he had filled out a form before flying falsely stating he had not come into contact with an Ebola case, when he had actually helped a neighbor with the disease days earlier.
Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. She was angry with Duncan for what he had done, especially given how much the United States was doing to help tackle the crisis.
“One of our compatriots didn’t take due care, and so, he’s gone there and in a way put some Americans in a state of fear, and put them at some risk, and so I feel very saddened by that and very angry with him,” she said.
“The fact that he knew (he might be a carrier) and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly,” she said.