New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan’s administration is announcing a mandatory three-week home quarantine for any travelers to New Hampshire who have had direct contact with Ebola victims from three stricken countries in West Africa.
Reporter's note: Scroll down to hear my unedited interview with Dr. Jose Montero
The state’s top health official, Dr. Jose Montero, says the strictest requirement will apply to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia who have had contact with Ebola patients.
Such travelers will be monitored for illness for 21 days following their return while staying in their homes, he says.
Montero: “When you look at the new guidelines from CDC, they strongly recommend that health care workers stay home. We are going to ask them to stay home.”
NHPR: “What if they say 'no?' ”
Montero: “Well, if they say 'no' then we will issue an order.”
That’s per existing state public health statute, he adds. And the law requires that the least-restrictive possible isolation or quarantine be imposed, he says.
Montero says that as of Monday, the federal government was forwarding to the states names and contact information on travelers from the three affected nations. As of Tuesday afternoon the CDC had flagged no such travelers in New Hampshire, but Montero expects an eventual rate of two or three each week.
He emphasizes that this is a fluid situation.
“This is a changing situation that we are carefully and closely monitoring,” he said. “Our recommendations will change and our approaches will change based on the best available evidence and forecasting of the situation that we can provide based on how this thing changes. It may be that next week we need to be more aggressive or less aggressive.”
Public health officials will monitor those who are home quarantined for signs of illness, including twice-daily temperature checks. The temperature checks will also apply to those returning to the state from impacted areas but had no contact with Ebola patients. Those who have not had contact with Ebola patients will be asked to avoid large public gatherings and avoid public transportation. Montero says the state will rely on self-reporting to determine a traveler’s level of exposure