7. Isolation

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Jennifer Yang’s decision would not only affect her. As she considered her options, she consulted  her live-in boyfriend of three years, the Star‘s deputy national editor, Matt Carter. Although he would support whatever decision she made, they needed to discuss whether she should return home after the trip, or isolate herself for 21 days.

“The last thing I would want was to infect my boyfriend with a deadly disease, so I knew that I was not going to take any risks with his health,” said Yang later.

Internationally, opinion remains divided over the 21-day incubation period that some media companies insist on for their staff.[1] Later in 2014, when CBC sent its reporting team to  Monrovia, Liberia, alarm was growing in the United States after two heath care workers returned infected while treating patients in an Ebola zone. Greg Reaume, CBC news manager, says that the team was not planning to be in direct contact with the sickest patients, and infectious disease specialists advised that there was no need for isolation. Nevertheless, the team worked off-site, rather than in the office, for three weeks after return to avoid unease in the workplace.

By contrast, Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford convinced her boss that she didn’t need an incubation period upon her return from Liberia. In a November 2, 2014 article published on Sky News, she wrote that she was unwilling “to pacify people who are ignorant. Just because people are a bit scared – it’s ridiculous, we’re going back to the Dark Ages.”[2]

Some quarantines were more necessary than others. Ashoka Mukpo was working as a freelance journalist and cameraman for news outlets such as NBC and Vice. He contracted Ebola and fell ill on October 1, 2014. He was evacuated (along with the entire NBC team) and flown to the University of Nebraska Medical Centre for treatment.[3] The NBC News team—including NBC’s chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman — was put in mandatory quarantine for 21 days. Dr. Snyderman and her team came under intense media scrutiny when they were spotted outside of a New Jersey restaurant, thus violating their quarantine.[4]

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[1-2] Alex Crawford. “Be alert about Ebola but will it kill half of Reading? No.” Sky News. November 2, 2014.

[3] Drew Hinshaw, Lukas I. Alpert and Jennifer Levitz, “American Journalist With Ebola, NBC Team to Be Brought Back to U.S.,” The Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2014.

[4] Helen Lock, “Ebola outbreak: NBC reporter Nancy Snyderman apologises after breaking quarantine ‘to go and pick up takeaway order,'” The Independent, October 14, 2014.

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