For the first time ever, people infected with the deadly Ebola virus will be inside the borders of the United States.
Two Americans infected with the virus are being evacuated back home from Africa to the United States, according to news reports. Those infected include Kent Brantly, a doctor from Texas, and Nancy Writebol, a missionary, who became sick while in Liberia.
“With the return of Brantly and Writebol to the United States, it will be the first time that patients diagnosed with Ebola will be known to be in the country,” CNN reported.
Added Washington Post: “It would be the first time a patient infected with Ebola has been treated in the United States.”
In Atlanta, Emory University Hospital is expecting at least one patient, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The hospital wing where the patient will go, set up with the help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is designed for people with serious infectious diseases.
A CDC spokeswoman told The Washington Post that the agency believes the evacuation of the sick Americans does not jeopardize the health of the general public.
“Every precaution is being taken to move those infected safely and securely, to provide critical care en route and to maintain strict isolation upon arrival in the United States,” said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds. “The safety and security of U.S. citizens is our highest priority. These are U.S. citizens who are returning to the United States for medical care. They are being returned under strict medical protocols for infectious diseases.”
Meanwhile in Washington, President Obama still plans to convene a three-day summit in Washington for leaders of African countries. The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is scheduled for Monday through Wednesday of next week.
Obama has issued invitations for the summit to leaders in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the three countries experiencing the Ebola outbreak.
“We have no plans to change any elements of the U.S.-Africa summit as we believe all air travel continues to be safe here,” principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One this week.
The virus is spread through physical contact with the bodily fluids of someone infected with Ebola.