(CNN) — A Dallas apartment where the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States had stayed is finally getting a thorough cleaning, days after the diagnosis left four people quarantined there with soiled towels and sweat-stained sheets from the Ebola patient.
After some delays, the first of three phases in cleaning the apartment began Friday afternoon. By around 5:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m. ET), the effort was continuing but at least the sheets and towels had been moved out. Crews also worked to remove three mattresses, each of which the Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan slept on, city of Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed said.
And so, too, had the four people — the partner of the Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, her 13-year-old son and her two 20-something nephews — who had been ordered to stay inside the apartment until October 19. By that point, enough time should have passed to determine if any of them contracted Ebola or if they’re in the clear.
Syed, the city spokeswoman, told reporters Friday evening that the four had been transported to a private home in Dallas County, a move that County Fire Marshal Robert De Los Santos had hinted was coming.
It made for a busy day for the quartet, who until then had gotten little more than brief stops from a health official only to be visited by a fully outfitted hazardous materials team. Photos tweeted by Syed showed people wearing masks, boots and yellow hazmat suits. A large tarp was laid out, and several oil-drum like containers were on site.
Some have criticized the fact that it took so long to start the process, given that health officials announced three days ago that Duncan had Ebola. At that time, four people Duncan had stayed with in the Texas city were ordered not to leave the apartment because of possible lingering effects of Duncan, from his clothes to toilets to silverware.
Duncan became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on American soil when he was hospitalized days after his arrival from Liberia. Duncan landed in Dallas on September 20 and started feeling sick several days later.He went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 26 with a fever and abdominal pain, hospital officials say. He was sent home with antibiotics but returned in an ambulance two days later, when he was admitted and placed in isolation.
On September 30, a blood test confirmed Duncan had Ebola. He remains at the hospital in serious but stable condition, health officials say.
On Friday, Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson told CNN’s “New Day” that the Ebola situation in the city is “under control.”
“It is contained,” Thompson said. The Ebola patient’s “family is being monitored. There is no outbreak. And so therefore everyone should ease their fears and allow public health officials … to respond to this issue.”
Duncan was in Dallas visiting his son and his son’s mother, his half-brother, Wilfred Smallwood, said.Duncan’s partner, who asked to be referred to only by her first name, Louise, along with her son and two nephews in their 20s, are in isolation at the apartment, which still has the sheets, clothes and towels Duncan used.
On Wednesday, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles said five school-age children who attended four different schools had come into contact with Duncan and were being monitored at home for Ebola symptoms.It is unclear if the young boy quarantined with Louise is one of those children, or how the five students came in contact with Duncan.