sábado, 18 de octubre de 2014
Hay millones de historias en la ciudad desnuda. Y ni te cuento en el crucero de lujo “Carnival Magic”, cuando una turista se acerca al capitán y le cuenta que días atrás atendió a un enfermo de Ebola; sí, ese que justito murió poco después. Leemos en el Telegraph de Londres:
Título: 'We're a floating petri dish': Panic onboard the 'Ebola cruise'
Subtítulo: When a woman who had worked in an Ebola laboratory was found to be travelling on a Caribbean cruise ship, panic ensued, writes Nick Allen and Rob Crilly
Texto: It was supposed to be an escape to the Caribbean sunshine for a week of partying, relaxation, and sipping champagne while watching gorgeous sunsets from the decks of a luxury cruise ship. But four days after the Carnival Magic set sail from Galveston, Texas rumours began swirling that all was not well on board. The ship, complete with a swimming pool, an array of water slides, and a giant cinema screen, inexplicably stopped off the coast of Belize and the whispers began. "The rumours were going round - we were stuck in the mud. Someone's been kidnapped," said one passenger. As the theories got wilder over the clink of cocktail glasses at the bar, no-one imagined they were actually about to be at the centre of an international Ebola scare. Finally, the captain confirmed on the loudspeaker that, among their number, was a woman who worked as a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. She had processed clinical samples from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Mr Duncan, 42, died on Oct 8, four days before the ship sailed. The lab supervisor, and her husband, were voluntarily quarantined in their cabin as fear spread on the ship, which is due to arrive back in Galveston on Sunday.
Passenger Jon Malone said there was "utter panic" on board, adding: "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." His brother Jeremy Malone said: "You see a ton of people that are crying, and then there are folks that are having a drink." Outside his room on the 11th floor Jeremy Malone saw up to 40 workers with cleaning fluids and wearing masks. He said: "There was a lot of folks who clean the state rooms with buckets and chemicals and people in masks were running around the ship."
As word of an Ebola scare spread so many passengers tried to call home that all they could get on mobile devices was a busy signal, and the internet crashed. One passenger, who gave his name as Michael, was able to get through to CNN by telephone. He said: "Obviously our concern is where is this person is on the ship and what kind of set up do they have to care for them? I can't imagine it's a completely quarantined area. They have not told us at all where the person is. My wife has medication for a kidney transplant, she's susceptible to getting something a little easier than the rest of us, and we don't know where this person has been on the ship." The passenger said he first realised something was wrong when he looked on a map of the ship's course on his television. He said: "We were supposed to put into a port and I noticed that we were pulling away from the port. The captain finally came on and said we couldn't get permission to port. That's when everything hit the fan here and we realised we were quarantined. There were all kind of rumours. They never really said Ebola, they said 'symptoms,' they kept it somewhat vague but everyone knew what they were talking about."
The lab supervisor boarded the Carnival Magic, which carries 3,690 passengers and up to 1,367 crew, in Galveston, on Oct 12. She had not been placed under any travel restrictions by the hospital, or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both have been criticised for not telling health workers who had contact with Mr Duncan to stay home. The woman on the ship was only required to self-monitor her temperature daily to see if she had developed a fever. After seeing news reports about two nurses who worked at the hospital - Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29 - being diagnosed with Ebola she decided to report herself to the captain, and self-quarantine by staying inside her cabin.
The ship then applied to go drop her off in a port in Belize so she could be flown back to Texas, but the Belize govenment refused. Dean Barrow, the country's prime minister, refused a personal appeal from US Secretary of State John Kerry to send a helicopter to pick her up from the Carnival Magic and take her to a plane waiting at an airport in Belize. Mr Barrow said: "It is clear, even in the US with all their capacity, with all their expertise, there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to how this thing gets transmitted. Their response, their approach, their treatment of the issue, seems to be a work in progress." In a statement his government said: "The passenger never set foot in Belize. When even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people." Asked about Belize's refusal to accept the passenger, a US State Department spokeswoman said: "We think it could probably have been handled differently." The Carnival Magic then sailed on to Mexico where it had been scheduled to dock int he port of Cozumel. it was hoped the woman could be airlifted from there, but again it was not allowed into port.
"I'm on the Carnival ship with the Ebola scare. Mexican authorities not allowing us into Cozumel. Heading back to Galveston," Eric Lupher, a passenger who works as a reporter for ABC7 in Denver, Colorado, said in a post on Twitter. Mr Lupher described how fear began spreading among the passengers on Thursday night. He said: "We were about five miles off the shore of Belize just sitting in the boat in the ocean, not knowing what was going on. The boat wasn't moving. It was like that for several hours. Then we started moving in the middle of the night. More than 12 hours later we were told this person was on the ship. The captain came on the loudspeaker and told us what was going on. He never said the word Ebola, but everyone knew. On the elevators, people were talking about it. And a lot of people were upset about it." Up to that point, he said, "the party just kind of kept going. The pools were open, the slides were open, people were still eating at the buffet, touching areas that everybody touches. There's a lot of concern over communication."
Mr Lupher said the issue that most worried passengers was how they would be treated when they arrive in port in Texas. He said: "There is a lot of concern over what's going to happen when we get back to Galveston. It's our understanding we're just going to get off the boat and go home - but is that really going to happen?" Mr Lupher posted a photograph on Twitter of people still lining up for food on the ship. He said: "Despite Ebola scare...people still eating at the buffet." Another passenger, a teenage girl called Delaney, joked on social media that the Carnival Magic was "stuck in mud". She said: Nothing like Mexico not even letting us on land. At least I have chocolate cake and Dr Pepper..."
Carnival Cruise Lines distributed a letter to passengers telling them: "At this time the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. "It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution." The maximum incubation period for Ebola is 21 days and it has been very nearly that long since the woman handled Mr Duncan's samples, showing no symptoms, so it is likely she is out of danger. Carnival offered compensation of $200 per passenger to those on board, and a 50 per cent discount on future cruises, as an apology for missing the Mexican stop. A spokesman said: "We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests." The US State Department said it was working with the cruise line to "safely bring them back to the United States out of an abundance of caution."
More than 4,500 people have died so far in the world's largest ever outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The World Health Organisation has warned that the infection rate could reach 10,000 a week by early December. In Dallas patients were avoiding the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and only one third of the 900 beds were filled. Rachelle Cohorn, a medical worker, said: "It feels like a ghost town. No one is even walking around the hospital."
US President Barack Obama warned against panic as the country was swept by a series of false alarms. Those included one at the Pentagon where an entrance was closed and Ebola precautions enacted after a woman was sick in a car park. No evidence was found that she was suffering from Ebola. In his weekly address to the American people Mr Obama said: "What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America. This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear." Mr Obama also said he would not be introducing a ban on air travel into the US from West Africa, despite many calls to do so. He said: "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse. "Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track."