Search The Archives

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

EBOLA ATTACK TERM USED DURING STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS BRIEFING JULY 30, 2014

FOR CLARITY:  The following is the official transcript from the State Department Press Briefing, July 30th 2014, where the phrase "Ebola attack" was used vs. the more appropriate "Ebola outbreak"...

QUESTION: And can we talk about Ebola?
QUESTION: Yes, please.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah? Could you talk --
MS. HARF: And then we’ll go to India, I promise.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Jen talked about precautions that are being made. Could you talk about precautions? There are some reports that an American medical worker is being – is either contracted with, quarantined. I don’t know if they have the disease but – or has been in contact with someone, is being evacuated. Have you talked to the – have you contacted people on this victim who has died on this person’s plane? Like how – what’s going on?
MS. HARF: So let me just give a few facts. And I think Jen did some of this yesterday, but obviously we’ve confirmed that a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria after contracting the virus in Liberia. He had traveled to Nigeria while infected with the virus. Embassy Abuja officials have been informed of the case and are working with local authorities.
At least two additional United States citizens have been infected. Due to privacy considerations, can’t provide more information about who those two are. We have – so the U.S. missions in the affected areas have distributed messages to U.S. citizens regarding the Ebola attack and those missions are closely monitoring the situation, continue to keep American citizens informed of what’s happening.
In terms of the CDC, who we’ve been working very closely with, we the State Department, the CDC has stated there’s no significant risk in the United States from the current Ebola outbreak. Obviously they’ve put out some information to travelers about how they could possibly come in contact with Ebola. Healthcare providers are – who have come in contact with patients or were in close contact with ill people are at the highest risk for this. But they have put out some sort of things to watch out for as well.
QUESTION: Are you going to have any specific Ebola-related meetings at the Africa summit, considering so many of those countries are affected?
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, Elise, but I am obviously happy to check. But not to my knowledge. That’s obviously focused on other issues.
QUESTION: Okay.
MS. HARF: And multiple government agencies in the U.S., including USAID, HHS, as I said, CDC, State, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases are all helping the WHO and other partner countries in trying to contain this.
QUESTION: Who’s – which agency has the lead on all this? Is that --
MS. HARF: In the U.S. or internationally?
QUESTION: In the U.S.
MS. HARF: I would guess the CDC does, but I’m happy to – there’s a lot of different parts to it.
QUESTION: Now, I don’t know if you’re the agency that does that, but do you know how many fellow passengers of this Patrick Sawyer have been contacted, how many people outside of the plane that he had contact have been reached?
MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check. And also, I would just go back again, just a little health lesson for all of us here – just give me one second.
QUESTION: Do you know if the airline has handed over their manifest?
MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know that, Elsie. According to the CDC, travelers become infected – could become infected if they come into contact with blood or other body fluids from someone who is sick or has died. It’s not – you can’t just be in the room with someone and contract Ebola.
QUESTION: Yeah, but a plane is like a festering cesspool of germs. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I’m sure our aviation industry would love to hear that. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Given that I know – I speak from experience. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Again, I’m not sure what your plane experiences have been like, but in order to become infected – (laughter) --
QUESTION: The same as yours.
MS. HARF: -- you would have to come into contact, again, with bodily fluids or with blood, which is why healthcare workers are, unfortunately, some of the most at risk here.
QUESTION: Marie, the country of Liberia had quarantined some workers and closed schools in certain areas. Is there an advisory to American citizens in that country right now, or one that you plan to issue anytime soon?
MS. HARF: We have – the CDC actually is the medical authority who puts out travel information to people on communicable diseases. We include that information in our travel information on our website if it is important to do so. Let me – I don’t have anything other than that in terms of any individual country’s decisions regarding treating this disease.
QUESTION: Is there any reason to believe that other U.S. agency workers may have been exposed? I believe the two that we just confirmed were from the Peace Corps.
MS. HARF: I don’t have that confirmed that they’re from the Peace Corps, so let me – I’m not sure that’s true. So let me check on that.
QUESTION: Okay.
MS. HARF: I know – look, we’re talking to a lot of people about this, people that have – particularly healthcare workers in these countries, in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, are very, very focused on it. We are working closely with them, as is the CDC and others. So --
QUESTION: But wouldn’t the – tell me if this is wrong. Wouldn’t the U.S. Embassy be somewhat in a leadership role here, given chief of mission status?
MS. HARF: Correct. Well, so – not chief of mission status, but of course the U.S. embassy in any country is where private citizens, particularly a lot of --
QUESTION: Right.
MS. HARF: -- I think these are all private citizens. To my knowledge, no USG, but I can check on that – would go for information about health incidents like this. Obviously they would be the ones that would be the lead for American citizens.
QUESTION: And would – there have been some reports that there is some consideration of removing Americans, whether they be U.S. Government workers or Americans generally, from the area where these infections are believed to have happened.
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that, but let me check on that and see if there’s any truth behind that. Anything else on this?
QUESTION: And also on Ebola --
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Sorry. If folks are coming back from these countries, are there any screening processes in place for --
MS. HARF: Additional screening?
QUESTION: Yeah.
MS. HARF: I think that would probably be a question for Customs and Border Patrol or DHS, but I’m happy to see if there’s information I can share.
QUESTION: And if in fact CDC does change its travel advisories, warnings, whatever --
MS. HARF: Information.
QUESTION: -- would the State Department then, as a result, change its travel warnings as well?
MS. HARF: Well, we don’t have travel warnings in place for these countries, at least any – or some of them or all of them, to my knowledge. We would update information on our country-specific webpages that we have, so when you are traveling to any country, you can go online and look at a webpage even if there’s no travel warning in place. We would obviously evaluate the information, definitely put it on our website, and take any other appropriate steps.
Yes.