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Soldiers coming back from serving in Ebola-hit Liberia will be kept in quarantine for 21 days, the U.S. Army said Monday — even though they were kept apart from any Ebola patients.
A dozen soldiers, including Major General Darryl Williams, their commander, will be confined to a housing complex with barracks, a dining hall and a gym but no outside access at their home base in Vicenza, Italy, the Defense Department said. They will not be able to return to their homes or interact with other personnel at the base, except those working in the quarantine area.
Williams turned over command of troops in Liberia to Army Major General Gary Volesky and his 101st Airborne Division on Saturday.
Two defense officials said the Joint Staff is reviewing whether to follow the Army's lead and recommend that all service members returning from Ebola-stricken areas be under 21-day quarantine. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno decided over the weekend that all U.S. soldiers would be quarantined when returning from Liberia and Senegal but the other services have not amended their rules yet.
Soldiers and military contractors including engineers, medical specialists and logisticians are not directly treating Ebola patients but are helping build medical centers and training local health-care workers. About 600 U.S. military staff are in now but President Barack Obama has committed to send at least 4,000.
The World Health Organization says more than 10,000 people have been infected in the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and says the only way to stop it is with a giant push of medical aid.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has been battling fallout from his state’s controversial decision to forcibly quarantine a Doctors Without Borders nurse, Kaci Hickox, who initially showed a fever when she left a flight arriving in Newark from Sierra Leone Friday but who was released Monday after testing negative for the virus.