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    Oct 07, 2014

    Ebola fears rise in US despite assurances


    ASSURANCES from United States health officials that there is almost no chance of a US Ebola outbreak are doing little to allay Americans' fears, days after the first domestic case was diagnosed.

    "We have seen a lot understandable concerns," Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Sunday.

    The patient, Thomas Duncan, who travelled from Liberia to Texas late last month, was in critical condition on Sunday at a hospital in Dallas.

    A native of Liberia, Mr Duncan arrived in the US on Sept 20 without exhibiting any symptoms.

    His illness was diagnosed last week - but only after he was turned away from the hospital days earlier, potentially infecting several people he came into contact with while infectious.

    Before announcing the American case last Tuesday, the CDC was receiving around 50 Ebola-related phone calls a day, Dr Frieden told reporters during a phone conference.

    Since then, the number has jumped to 800, he said.

    The fear was evident in the difficulty that the Texas authorities had in finding alternate living accommodation for four people being forcibly quarantined in the apartment where they and Mr Duncan had lived.

    It was also apparent in the near impossible search for a cleaning or maintenance service to decontaminate the apartment and take away a garbage bag that held the sheets which had been on Mr Duncan's bed when he was sick.

    Ted Cruz, the conservative Republican senator from Texas, sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration suggesting that flights from the West African nations hard hit by Ebola not be allowed to land.

    Screening for possible Ebola symptoms at US airports for travellers from West Africa is also under review by the Obama administration, health officials told CNN.

    Dr Frieden said US agencies are discussing adding to passenger screenings now being conducted in the African nations stricken by the disease.

    President Barack Obama's administration has resisted calls to cancel flights to the US from West Africa. Dr Frieden said that isolating the countries that way would fuel the outbreak and raise the possibility that it spreads to other nations.