UPDATED, 4:10PM: The New Jersey Health Department said today that the members of an NBC News crew who were exposed to the ebola virus while working in Liberia have been hit with a mandatory quarantine. The department said in a statement that the group, which put itself in voluntary quarantine after a freelancer hired by the news division tested positive for the disease, had failed to adhere to a voluntary 21-day quarantine. The crew includes Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News chief medical editor and correspondent.
PREVIOUSLY, October 2: An American freelance cameraman working for NBC News in Liberia has tested positive for the ebola virus and will be flown back to the U.S. for treatment, the network news operation confirmed this afternoon. Ashoka Mukpo, 33, was hired Tuesday to be a second cameraman for NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Snyderman is with three other NBC News employees on assignment in Monrovia, reporting on the Ebola outbreak.
The freelancer came down with symptoms Wednesday and discovered he was running a slight fever. He immediately quarantined himself and sought medical advice, NBC News said. On Thursday morning, he went to a Medecins Sans Frontierest reatment center to be tested for the virus. The positive result came back nearly 12 hours later, NBC News reported.
Mukpo, who also is a writer, is the fourth American to have contracted ebola in Liberia. He has been working in Liberia on various projects for the past three years.
“We are doing everything we can to get him the best care possible,” NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a note to staff. “He will be flown back to the United States for treatment at a medical center that is equipped to handle ebola patients.
“We are also taking all possible measures to protect our employees and the general public,” she added in the note. The rest of the crew, including Snyderman, is being closely monitored and show no symptoms or warning signs. But Turness said they will be flown back to the States on a private charter flight and then placed under quarantine in the United States for 21 days – “which is at the most conservative end of the spectrum of medical guidance,” Turness explained.
American aid workers Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected in July while working for Samaritan’s Purse in Monrovia. Last month, Rick Sacra was diagnosed with the virus after working at a local hospital in Liberia.
Here is the full text of Turness’ note to NBC News staff:
As you know, Dr. Nancy Snyderman and our news team are in Liberia covering the Ebola outbreak. One of the members of their crew is an American freelance cameraman who has worked in Liberia for the past three years and has recently been covering the epidemic for US media outlets. On Tuesday he began working with our team. Today, he tested positive for Ebola.
We are doing everything we can to get him the best care possible. He will be flown back to the United States for treatment at a medical center that is equipped to handle Ebola patients. We are consulting with the CDC, Medecins Sans Frontieres and others. And we are working with Dr. Nancy on the ground in Liberia.
We are also taking all possible measures to protect our employees and the general public. The rest of the crew, including Dr. Nancy, are being closely monitored and show no symptoms or warning signs. However, in an abundance of caution, we will fly them back on a private charter flight and then they will place themselves under quarantine in the United States for 21 days – which is at the most conservative end of the spectrum of medical guidance.
We know you share our concern for our colleagues and we will continue to keep you up to date and informed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or David Verdi with any questions.