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October 28, 2014

CDC Revises Ebola Protocol but Stops Short of Quarantine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new rules Monday for monitoring people who have had contact with Ebola patients. Officials said the protocol was carefully crafted to avoid discouraging recruitment of badly needed aid workers to tackle the outbreak in West Africa, The New York Times reports. The federal guidelines involve daily health checks and freedom of movement for volunteers and others returning from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia who do not show symptoms of Ebola.

States are not bound by the CDC protocol, and a handful have implemented mandatory 21-day quarantines for some of those returning from Ebola hot zones, drawing criticism from the Obama administration and medical experts. The governors of New York and New Jersey, which have enacted isolation policies, said the new federal rules do not go far enough to protect public health.

Federal health officials and disease specialists contend the quarantines are too onerous and not justified by the science of Ebola transmission. Aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders praised the new CDC rules, saying they will not deter efforts to get medical workers to West Africa. Sheila Davis, the chief nursing officer for the nonprofit aid group Partners in Health, said prospective volunteers "are freaked out" by the prospect of quarantine when they return.