A passenger on a US cruise ship in the Caribbean has been quarantined because she may have handled ebola specimens.
The US State Department said the unidentified lab supervisor could have processed bodily fluids 19 days ago from the first patient diagnosed with ebola in the US. The disease’s incubation period is up to 21 days.
The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker did not have direct contact with now deceased Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan and was showing no symptoms of the disease, added the department.
Belize was reportedly keeping the cruise ship, Carnival Magic, offshore.
In a statement, the Central American nation said that “out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger” via a coastal airport.
Carnival Cruise Lines, which operates the ship, said the passenger was deemed by US health officials to be “very low risk”.
The employee left on a cruise from Galveston, Texas, last Sunday, before federal health officials updated requirements for active monitoring of anyone exposed to the virus.
The worker – who is isolated in a cabin with a travelling partner – has been self-monitoring with daily temperature checks since 6 October, before she boarded the vessel.
But she has not reported a fever or illness, said the State Department.
President Barack Obama, whose administration is scrambling to contain the disease, on Friday picked a former White House official, Ron Klain, to be his ebola czar.
Americans have been alarmed by two Dallas nurses who cared for Mr Duncan contracting the virus, which has killed some 4,500 people in West Africa.
It has now emerged that one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, may have shown symptoms as early as last Friday – three days before her diagnosis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its investigation to include passengers on a Friday flight from Dallas to Cleveland that she was on.
The 29-year-old was visiting family in Ohio last weekend before she flew on Monday from Cleveland back to Dallas, where she was diagnosed.
She visited an Akron bridal shop to plan her wedding and the business has now temporarily shut its doors, according to reports.
The other ebola-stricken nurse, Nina Pham, has been moved to a federal facility in Maryland, where officials said on Friday she was in a “fair” condition and resting comfortably.
Officials have released a video showing Miss Pham speaking to her doctor, sitting up in bed and wiping away tears as she tells colleagues: “I love you guys.”
US officials are reviewing whether to issue a ban on travel from West Africa because of the ebola outbreak, as a congressional oversight panel called for such a measure.
President Obama said he does not have a “philosophical objection” to such restrictions.