‘We’re a floating Petri dish’

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 19 Oktober 2014 | 23.08

Dallas County authorities are preparing for more possible Ebola cases as a second nurse who had treated the first victim of Ebola diagnosed on U.S. soil was infected with the virus. Mana Rabiee reports.

Self-quarantine ... the cruise ship Carnival Magic, with a Dallas health care worker aboard who is being monitored for signs of Ebola, has returned to port in Texas. Picture: Angel Castellanos Source: AP

A PASSENGER aboard a cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of Ebola described it as being like a "floating Petri dish".

After being refused to dock at either Mexico or Belize, the ship finally returned to port in Texas.

Company and federal officials have said the woman being monitored for Ebola poses no risk because she has shown no symptoms and has voluntarily self-quarantined.

The news of the potential Ebola infection, and the subsequent rejected requests to dock, prompted a panic aboard the cruise, the London Telegraph reports.

Tight quarters ... passengers aboard the cruise ship Carnival Magic were panicked and crying when it was revealed they were travelling with someone who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. Picture: Angel Castellanos Source: AP

Passenger Jon Malone described the scene as one of "utter panic", saying: "People are scared. I've seen people crying. You're using the same buffet line as someone else, the same waiters, the folks that clean the state rooms.

"If someone was cleaning their state room and cleaned yours right after, the exposure that you have there to elevators ... it's very tight quarters and a lot of interaction.

"It's really difficult to control any type of virus that's on a cruise ship. It's like a floating Petri dish. It spreads very rapidly. They're cleaning elevators. I've seen people with pink liquid cleaning the bar area and the handrails."

'No risk' ... a Carnival Magic passenger had handled a lab specimen from Liberian man Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month. Picture: Wilmot Chayee Source: AP

Petty Officer Andy Kendrick told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard crew flew in a helicopter to meet the Carnival Magic and retrieved a blood sample from the woman. He said the blood sample was taken to a state lab in Austin for processing.

Petty Officer Kendrick had no further details about how the sample was taken. He said the decision to take the sample was made in coordination with the federal, state and local health authorities.

Obama administration officials said the passenger handled a lab specimen from a Liberian man who died from Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month. Officials said the woman poses no risk because she has shown no signs of illness for 19 days and has voluntarily self-quarantined on the cruise ship.

US officials had been seeking ways to return the woman and her husband to the US before the ship completed its cruise.

Precautions ... a first responder wears a full biohazard suit while disinfecting a railing at a rail station after a woman with Ebola-like symptoms fell ill there on October 18, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Picture: Chip Somodevilla Source: AFP

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that when the woman left the US on the cruise ship from Texas on October 12, health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.

Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement that the woman, a lab supervisor, remained in isolation "and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew." The ship was refused clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday, a day after Belize refused to let the passenger leave the vessel.

There have been no restrictions placed on other passengers aboard the ship, officials said.

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