RICHMOND, Va -- Virginia health officials announced on Monday protocols for how the Commonwealth will handle and respond to Ebola concerns.
The Virginia Department of Health announced it will be monitoring the health of all travelers arriving from three of the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Those countries include Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Airport screeners will also provide the names and contact information for those travelers.
People arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone would be required to agree to self monitoring. That will include taking temperature twice a day and limiting travel outside the home.
Health officials also said the Board of Health could order that someone at high risk be quarantined or isolated.
If there's a chance someone may have contracted Ebola, they'll be taken to their nearest local hospital for evaluation. Officials said Virginia is avoiding a "blanket policy" for quarantining or isolating patients.
"The plan connects each traveler with our professional staff at Virginia's local health departments who know their community and can assure that the travelers will have the support, guidance and prompt clinical attention if needed," State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine said in a statement. "Because we will be able to assess the risk of each traveler, we will be better able to determine when a legal order of quarantine is necessary.”
Additionally, the policy includes specific requirements for health care workers returning from caring for Ebola-stricken patients.
Officials said that all health care workers must sign agreements to restrict their activity. Officials said state workers would check to make sure the workers were compliant and would reserve the right to issue a quarantine order.
The specific restrictions based on the "best scientific evidence about transmission of the virus" include:
- Those health care workers with known breaches of protective protocol will be required to stay at home for the 21-day period.
- Other health care workers will be evaluated on a case by case basis and may be restricted from public transportation, mass gatherings, and clinical care.
“This thoughtful and evidence-based process will protect our citizens in a manner consistent with our current laws and the current threat,” Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William Hazel said.
Health officials said 53 people in Virginia who had been to those countries were being monitored by the state.