Army orders 21-day quarantine for soldiers on Ebola duty

The Army is requiring all soldiers returning from West Africa to undergo a 21-day quarantine for Ebola.

The order was given by Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff.

"The Army chief of staff has directed a 21-day controlled monitoring period for all redeploying soldiers returning from Operation United Assistance," the Army said in a statement.

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"He has done this out of caution to ensure soldiers, family members and their surrounding communities are confident that we are taking all steps necessary to protect their health."

The Pentagon said there are currently about a dozen soldiers from U.S. Army Africa being isolated and monitored at a facility at their home station in Vincenza, Italy, including its commander, Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, and his staff.  

“None of these individuals has shown any symptoms of exposure,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren. 



The Pentagon refrained from using the word "quarantine," opting instead for "enhanced monitoring" since the move did not meet specific quarantine criteria. Still, the troops in isolation are not allowed to leave or see their family members. 



The precautions are being taken after a 33-year-old doctor who had recently returned to New York fell ill with Ebola after treating patients in Guinea, and after several states imposed a 21-day quarantine on medical workers returning from West Africa.

New York, New Jersey, and Illinois have imposed mandatory 21-day quarantines, but under pressure from the White House, the governors of New York and Illinois eased their policies to allow for quarantines at home.



The Pentagon characterized the Army's move as an "enhancement" of the current policy, rather than a conflict, that could possibly be expanded department-wide.

Fox News reported Monday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff has recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelSenators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal Lobbying World Who will temper Trump after he takes office? MORE that the same quarantine measures be used for all branches of the military.

The Pentagon said Monday that no decisions have been made to do so. 



Up to 4,000 U.S. troops could be sent to Africa to help with the Ebola response. Approximately 882 troops have already been deployed to train healthcare workers, construct treatment facilities and mobile labs and provide logistical help.

— This story was first posted at 12:10 p.m. and has been updated.