U.S. Troops Returning From Liberia To Be Quarantined At U.S. Base In Italy
The Pentagon has announced that U.S. troops returning from west Africa will be isolated for twenty-one days to monitor them for signs of Ebola:
U.S. soldiers returning from Liberia are being placed in isolation in Vicenza, Italy out of concern for the Ebola virus, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.
The soldiers being monitored include Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams who was the commander of the U.S. Army in Africa but turned over duties to the 101st Airborne Division over the weekend, Martin reports. There are currently 11 soldiers in isolation.
They apparently were met by Carabinieri in full hazmat suits. If the policy remains in effect, everyone returning from Liberia – several hundred – will be placed in isolation for 21 days. Thirty are expected in today, Martin reports.
A Pentagon spokesman calls it “enhanced monitoring.” The soldiers are confined to a building and unable to see their families, Martin reports. The decision made by the Army and applies only to soldiers returning from Liberia. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will decide whether to make isolation apply to members of all services returning from Liberia.
On the whole, this seems like a prudent step for the military to take given the fact that, unlike health care workers returning to the U.S., active duty soldiers wouldn’t necessarily be able to self-quarantine themselves upon return to the United States and could potentially expose fellow soldiers who were not in west Africa to the virus in the unlikely event that they happen to be infected. Additionally, the legal issues involved are quite different given the authority that the military as a whole can exercise over an active duty soldier, which is quite different from the authority that can be exercised over a private citizen. Hopefully, of course, none of the soldiers in question will become infected but, if the are, it seems best to identify them before they return to the states and get them appropriate care if necessary.