As the international media and law enforcement authorities begin to investigate how a man who had contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia came to arrive in Texas, new details are surfacing about Thomas Eric Duncan and his voyage to the United States. Before coming to America to visit family, Duncan worked as the driver for a manager of a FedEx contract company from which he was dismissed, after which he decided to “just go” to Texas.
According to new details given to the Liberian Observer by someone close to Duncan, Duncan did not leave Liberia with any outward symptoms of the disease. His decision to leave the country, according to the source, followed his dismissal from his job in early September. “By then, he had already received a visa to visit a relative in Texas (USA), so he decided to just go,” according to the source.
The Observer does not note that the source elaborated on what he meant– whether Duncan had decided to “just go” and attempt to stay in the United States or take advantage of the lack of work hours to leave the country. Without a job, however, it would be slightly more unreasonable to consider taking a vacation, only to return to unemployment.
The Observer notes that Liberian Minister of Information Lewis Brown also confirmed that Duncan did not have outward symptoms when he left the country. It was only when he arrived at the Texas hospital admitting him, reports agree, that he began to experience fever and vomiting. Liberian government officials have said that Duncan lied about having come into contact with someone suffering from Ebola, however, for which the government is beginning proceedings to prosecute Duncan.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has come under significant scrutiny for their treatment of Duncan. Upon his first visit to the hospital, Duncan told nurses that he had traveled from Liberia, and that he was experiencing fever and vomiting, according to a witness. The hospital recorded the symptom as “abdominal pain” rather than vomiting and released him with antibiotics. He soon returned and was put in isolation, and tests returned confirming the worst. As a result, dozens of individuals could have come into contact with Duncan while he was contagious, and his family is currently under strict quarantine for the next 21 days.