Four Ebola suspects

FOUR people close to the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US were quarantined in a Dallas apartment where sheets and other items used by the man were sealed in plastic bags as health officials widened their search for people who had direct or indirect contact with him.

Health officials said on Thursday 12 to 18 people had direct contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew to Texas from Liberia via Brussels and Washington two weeks ago, and they in turn had contact with scores of others.

About 100 people have been contacted and a handful were being monitored, said Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

None of those thought to have had contact with the patient were showing symptoms of Ebola, Dallas County officials said at a news conference.

Mr Duncan had been staying in an apartment in the northeastern part of the city for about a week before going to a Dallas hospital.

“The sheets were placed in a sealed plastic bag and have been in the bag, as well as the belongings of Mr Duncan, those were also in a bag,” said Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s top political official.

In Liberia, the head of the country’s airport authority, Binyah Kesselly, said the government could prosecute Mr Duncan for denying he had contact with someone who was eventually diagnosed with Ebola.

The government said Mr Duncan failed to declare that he helped neighbor Marthalene Williams after she fell critically ill on Sept. 15. Williams died.

Mr Kesselly said Mr Duncan was asked in a questionnaire whether he had come in contact with any Ebola victim or was showing any symptoms.

“To all of these questions, Mr. Duncan answered ‘no,'” Mr Kesselly said.