Airline crew on leave after flight with infected nurse

US President Barack Obama has authorised the Pentagon to call up reserve and National Guard troops if they are needed to assist in the US response to the ebola outbreak in Africa.

The US has already committed to sending up to 4,000 military personnel to West Africa to provide logistics and help build treatment units to confront the rapidly spreading and deadly virus.

Obama signed an executive order that permits the Pentagon to use the reservists and Guard troops.

Nearly 4,500 people have died from the outbreak, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The troops will not be providing direct health care aid.

The move came hours after the airline which carried the second nurse to contract ebola in the US put six crew members on 21 days paid leave — while reassuring its other 131 passengers that they were unlikely to have been infected by the disease.

The nurse was being treated at a hospital in Atlanta as news that she had travelled by plane while symptomatic heightened fear over the spread of the virus and sparked reactions in Washington and on Wall Street.

US airline stocks tumbled and some lawmakers called for travel restrictions after officials said nurse Amber Vinson flew on a Frontier Airlines jet from Cleveland, Ohio, back to Dallas, Texas, with a fever on Monday, a day before she was diagnosed.

In Ohio, where Vinson had visited family, two schools in the Cleveland suburb of Solon were closed because an employee may have travelled on the same plane as Vinson, but on a different flight.

Rising anxiety prompted Obama to cancel two days of political events weeks before the November 4 congressional elections.

Vinson, 29, was among the health care workers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with ebola in the US, before his October 8 death at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Frontier Airlines said it had put six crew members on paid leave for 21 days “out of an abundance of caution”.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Thomas Frieden said it was unlikely other passengers who travelled on the plane with Vinson were infected because the nurse had not vomited or bled on the flight.

Vinson was the second nurse at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to become infected, raising concerns about how the facility handled the disease. Nina Pham, 26, was diagnosed with the virus over the weekend.


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