About a dozen Army personnel are currently under quarantine for 21 days in Vicenza, Italy. The measure is just a precaution. None of the personnel have yet to display any signs that they have contracted the Ebola virus. The group, including Major General Darryl Williams and his staff, are the first American service members to visit the Ebola hot zone in West Africa.
The quarantine was pushed for by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and approved by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. For their period of isolation, personnel can’t have any physical contact with family *or* loved ones. They must take their temperature twice a day and eat with plastic utensils that are destroyed after each use.
The isolated service members have been given phones and internet, and even places to exercise. General Williams told reporters that morale is high, and that this precautionary measure is just another part of their duty and assignment.
While the 21 day isolation period may seem like over-kill, and has been likened to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s quarantine of nurse Kaci Hickox, it makes more sense in the military. First of all, service members are not average citizens who are free to come and go as they please. Service members have sworn to obey orders and must do what they’re told, even if it places them in harm’s way *or* is inconvenient.
That being said, with the rapid movement of service members from installation to installation where thousands of service members are massed in close quarters, it makes even more sense to take extra precautions with military personnel.
There are 75 more Army personnel expected to return to Italy from Liberia soon. They are also expected to go through a similar period of isolation. The current procedure will be closely monitored, and face a review after a 45 day period.
There are currently around 1,000 U.S. service members in West Africa, mainly in Senegal and Liberia. It’s expected that the number will be closer to 4,000 troops within the next several weeks. No American service members have been reported to have contracted Ebola, and with precautionary measures in place, it should stay that way.
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Military Connection: US Soldiers Under Quarantine: By Debbie Gregory