The Liberian man infected with the first case of Ebola in the U.S. will face prosecution when he returns to the country for lying on an airport screening questionnaire before departing for the U.S. On the form, Thomas Eric Duncan, answered “no” to questions about whether he had “cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of someone who had died in an area affected by Ebola,” the Associated Press reports. Days before leaving Liberia, Duncan accompanied a pregnant woman to the hospital who later died of Ebola, according to extensive reporting on the chain of transmission done by the New York Times.
As the AP points out, however, it’s unclear what Duncan knew when, as the woman’s death was initially thought to be due to complications with the pregnancy and Duncan was not showing symptoms of the virus when he departed Liberia. Duncan was screened three times before he flew to Brussels en route to the U.S., CNN reports. “Wilfred Smallwood, who says he’s a half-brother of Duncan, said Thursday that he doesn’t believe Duncan knew he had Ebola when he left Liberia for the United States,” according to CNN. Here’s more on the Liberian reaction from CNN:
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told Canadian public broadcaster CBC on Thursday that she would consult with lawyers to decide what to do with Duncan when he returns home. “The fact that he knew (he was exposed to the virus) and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly,” Johnson Sirleaf told CBC. “I just hope that nobody else gets infected.” “With the U.S. doing so much to help us fight Ebola, and again one of our compatriots didn’t take due care, and so, he’s gone there and … put some Americans in a state of fear, and put them at some risk, and so I feel very saddened by that and very angry with him, to tell you the truth.”