State ups Ebola precautions after patient shows symptoms

After Yale New Haven Hospital announced Thursday that it was treating a patient with “Ebola like symptoms,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said the state would take additional steps to prepare for the virus.

The diagnosis of the patient, who was admitted Wednesday night, is unknown at this time and confirmation of Ebola has not been made. The hospital gave a briefing on Thursday saying only that the patient had Ebola-like symptoms and was being monitored. It stressed that it was “well-equipped and prepared” to care for the patient in a way that would not impact others in the hospital and that every service remained open there.

In a press release issued Thursday, Mr. Malloy said the state was enacting the quarantine and isolation protocols that were authorized under the order he signed last week. He also said he was directing every hospital in the state to perform a drill within the next week to insure that their procedures are up to standard. Additionally, Mr. Malloy announced he is convening a Unified Command Team (UCT), chaired by Jewel Mullen, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH), to coordinate resources and personnel and serve as a source of communication with the public.

“We have been taking this situation very seriously for weeks,” Mr. Malloy said Thursday. “Over that period of time, we have been working with health officials to prepare for a potential case here in Connecticut, and I am today formalizing that effort with the establishment of a Unified Command Team. While we don’t yet know if there is a confirmed case of Ebola in our state, the report that a Yale student has exhibited symptoms demonstrates why preemptive action is the right approach. I believe we must go above and beyond what the CDC is recommending, just as we did last week when I issued a preemptive declaration. I want everyone to know, from the nurses in our emergency rooms to our first responders and our law enforcement personnel, we will provide whatever resources we have at our disposal so that you can do your critically important jobs safely and effectively.”

Last week’s public health emergency order was done as a precautionary matter and it gives Dr. Mullen the authority to quarantine and isolate an individual or a group of individuals whom they “reasonably believe has been exposed to the Ebola virus or infected with the Ebola virus.”

“Connecticut hospitals clearly have a heightened level of awareness for detecting a patient with Ebola, given the level of cooperation we have received in preparing for a possible case,” said Dr. Mullen. “The survey shows that every hospital is engaged in planning and preparedness around Ebola. Critical to preventing an Ebola outbreak in the United States is that all hospitals are able to recognize when a patient may be at risk for Ebola and take the appropriate steps. We continue to work with hospitals to ensure they can detect a patient with Ebola, protect health care workers so they can safely care for the patient, and respond in a coordinated fashion with their healthcare system.”

United Way 211 is providing information and links on its website at 211ct.org, or you can call 2-1-1.

Mr. Malloy and Dr. Mullen said that if you become sick with a fever and/or any of the symptoms of Ebola virus disease such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and you have traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the last 21 days or have had contact with a person who has Ebola virus disease you will be sent to a hospital for evaluation and placed in room separate from other patients. Additionally they said if you are not sick, but have traveled to affected areas or been in contact with an infected individual, you will be required to stay at home for 21 days and take your temperature twice a day.

In the event of this happening, public heath health workers will contact you twice a day by phone to see how you are doing as part of this quarantine. If you develop a fever or other symptoms suggestive of Ebola virus during the time that you are required to be home, you will be sent to a hospital for evaluation and placed in room separate from other patients.

“The first responder community continues to monitor the current situation and prepare for any potential threat to public safety or health using their established protocols,” said Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro. “We are at the ready to assist and support our local partners in this critical state-wide effort.”

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