DALLAS — Breaking news: Possible Ebola contacts now up to 80.
The number of possible contacts with the Ebola patient in Dallas has risen to 80, said Zachary Thompson, Dallas County Health and Human Services director Thursday.
He also said a control order has been issued to the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the man identified by The Associated Press as the victim of the often-fatal virus. Thompson said that means the family members are confined to their apartment and the front and back areas, such as the patio.
Parents rushed to get their children from school Wednesday after learning that five students may have had contact with the Ebola patient in a Dallas hospital, as Gov. Rick Perry and other leaders reassured the public that there is no cause for alarm.
The patient, identified by The Associated Press as Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia, arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to visit family. Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said county officials suspect that 12 to 18 people may have had contact with Duncan.
“Right now, the base number is 18 people, and that could increase,” he said. Thompson said more details are expected by Thursday afternoon. The number includes five students at four schools, Dallas school district Superintendent Mike Miles said.
“This case is serious,” Perry said during a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where Duncan is being treated. “Rest assured that our system is working as it should. Professionals on every level on the chain of command know what to do to minimize this potential risk to the people of Texas and of this country.”
Miles said Dallas school officials learned Wednesday morning that five students at four schools — Tasby Middle, L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary, Dan D. Rogers Elementary and Conrad High — had come in contact with Duncan. Lowe Elementary is also being watched because it connects to Tasby.
At L.L. Hotchkiss, parents pulled their children out of school early.
“I’m scared,” said parent Kia Collins, who has four children at the school ages 5 to 11. “I may keep them home all week.”
Marcie Pardo said she picked up her 8-year-old daughter, Soriah, within minutes of being notified by school officials