RI health officials to monitor travelers from West Africa

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Health care workers in Rhode Island are currently monitoring several people for Ebola who have recently visited West Africa.

The Centers for Disease Control is now electronically notifying the state health department each time travelers from West Africa arrive to Rhode Island. The department is then reaching out to the travelers for 21 days following their last possible date of exposure to the Ebola virus. If the person begins to show symptoms, the department instructs them to go to the hospital for a full evaluation.

Rhode Island received its first set of travelers from West Africa last Friday. Since then, the health department has been performing daily checks.

Health Department Director Dr. Michael Fine confirms that so far, seven people from West Africa have flown back to the Ocean State, but none are showing any symptoms.

“I talk to them over the phone, check on how they’re feeling, how they’re doing, ask them if they’re taking their temperature. That’s the sort of conversation,” he said. “If you don’t have symptoms, you cannot transmit disease. So if you’re sitting next to a perfectly well person, you have nothing to worry about.”

Winston Gould, president of the Liberian Community Association of Rhode Island, said the group is asking for a holding facility for those coming from Ebola-affected countries. He believes it would ease fears within the community and ease concerns with family members.

“We are just being proactive,” he said. “That’s all we’re trying to do here, be proactive to make sure that we can help.”

Since the start of the Ebola outbreak, there have been eight people infected with the disease on U.S. soil.

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