The Internet has been flooded with angry comments lashing out at the now deceased Thomas Duncan since he was diagnosed with Ebola in Texas. People are angry that he allegedly entered the United States knowing he had possibly been exposed to Ebola and has now infected others. What many do not realize is that somebody was going to enter the country at some point with the virus – it just happened to be Thomas Duncan! I was initially angry too, until I started to look at the broader issues surrounding his treatment. In The Ebola Frenzy – Miracle Needed!, I questioned whether he deserved proper treatment since it had been reported that he lied on the immigration form about his exposure to the virus.
Thomas Duncan’s diagnosis in the USA has happened at a crucial time that allows the USA and the rest of the world to assess their preparedness to deal with this virus and to take action. The CDC had a false sense of security that they were adequately prepared to deal with the virus, but the poor response to Thomas Duncan in terms of treatment and quarantine has poked gaping holes in their argument. Now that two nurses who treated him have contracted the virus, the truth is being revealed about the lack of protocol that exists in the hospital that treated him.
When the first nurse reportedly contracted the virus, CDC was quick to place blame on the nurse by stating breach of protocol caused the transmission of the virus. This response was similar to the Spanish authorities blaming a Spanish nurse when she contracted the virus while doing her job. Now that a second nurse has been diagnosed, the nurses are no longer keeping quiet. They have revealed that they are on the front line without proper training, guidance and equipment. It is this lack of guidance that caused Thomas Duncan to be misdiagnosed the first time he went to the hospital; that caused him to be left in waiting room with other patients for hours upon his second arrival at the hospital; that caused the nurses to be treating other patients while treating Duncan; that eventually caused the transmission of Ebola from Duncan to the nurses.
Across the world, top government officials are locked in high level meetings assessing their preparedness and putting systems in place in hospitals and at airports – why? Duncan’s diagnosis in the USA has forced them to face reality. The UK, USA and other countries have now started screening people at the airports to try to contain the virus at the point of entry. The current screening methods are not adequate, but at least they are doing more than relying on people to be truthful about the countries they have visited and if they were in contact with someone who had Ebola.
Many people believe that flights from African countries should be banned, but that’s like sticking your head in the sand and believing that somehow we can isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and keep the virus out. The virus is going to spread even if flights from African nations are banned as the world is so intricately connected. The virus will simply spread to other neighboring countries and eventually to the USA. Trying to seal off our borders is like rich people refusing to help the poor without realizing that eventually they will have to deal with effects of poverty directly and indirectly.
The real fight needs to take place in the African nations where the virus has been killing people for months. Experimental drugs should have been sent there months ago when the first few hundred cases emerged and more health officials deployed to assist with care. Now that the CDC has announced that in two months an estimated 10,000 new cases of Ebola could be diagnosed each week, there is hope that affected African nations will get more help to combat the spread of this deadly virus and the loss of more human lives.
Don’t be angry with Duncan; thank him!
Thomas Duncan has caused the Western world to wake up out of their slumber; to realize that we are not immune to Ebola and that we are grossly unprepared to deal with Ebola victims or stop its transmission. Because of Thomas Duncan, we can be better prepared!