As officials in New York work to quell panic about the spread of Ebola, confusion has proliferated over precisely how many Yale students are currently being quarantined and monitored for symptoms of the virus. After news reports of a third Yale student being quarantined were released on Wednesday, Yale administrators could only confirm that there are currently two Yale researchers being quarantined.
On Wednesday night, an article published by the New York Times stated there are currently nine people in Connecticut who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus and are being told to stay home and avoid contact with others. The article added that of the nine, three are Yale students — the other six, according to other news sources, are from a family currently quarantined in West Haven. When contacted, the Times reporter said that she was relying on an official source, but would check. The article was never changed.
All nine people are being monitored by local health authorities for symptoms, the article said.
But Yale administrators, including University spokesman Tom Conroy, have maintained that only two Yale students — both researchers in the School of Public Health recently returned from Liberia — are under quarantine.
William Gerrish, director of the office of communications for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, said four quarantine orders have been issued involving nine people. However, Gerrish could not confirm the identities of these nine people for privacy reasons, or whether the ninth person was also a Yale student. Each quarantine order pertains to one place of residence.
“DPH reviews each case and determines, based upon the person’s travel history and potential exposures, the necessary steps to protect the public’s health,” Gerrish said.
The term “quarantine” refers to individuals who must stay in their homes and are contacted daily by local health officials, Gerrish said. He added that the officials monitor the individuals’ health and record their temperatures.
On Thursday evening, WTNH News reported that one of the nine quarantined is the girlfriend of one of the two Yale researchers who returned from Liberia and are now being quarantined.
In a Thursday email, Dean of the School of Public Health Paul Cleary said he thought the New York Times article was incorrect. Later that afternoon, Cleary said he had identified a factual inaccuracy in the WTNH article in reference to the word “quarantine.” Clearly did not elaborate on what the inaccuracy was or where in the article it appeared.
“Regarding Yale students, there are two students under quarantine, which is a legal condition that requires isolation that can be enforced by law,” Cleary said. “As the State Health Department has stated, there may be others who are being monitored for symptoms but are not under quarantine.”
Yale Health Director Paul Genecin said that he could not confirm if there was a third Yale student under quarantine because of patient privacy laws. But he said that Yale Health would be made aware if there were a third student under quarantine and that he would be in direct contact with University administrators and the DPH.
On Oct. 7, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed an order giving Connecticut State Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen the power to quarantine those who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. According to Connecticut state guidelines, any person who has traveled to areas affected by the virus or has come in contact with infected individuals is legally obligated to be quarantined in their homes for 21 days and take their temperature twice daily.
Two weeks ago, two Yale students returned from conducting research in Liberia where one of them had direct contact with an NBC cameraman who was later diagnosed with Ebola. Days after their return, that researcher reported a fever and other Ebola-like symptoms and was immediately placed in isolation at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Two separate tests to confirm an Ebola diagnosis came back negative, but both researchers remain under quarantine.