The U.S. embassy in Nicaragua is downplaying concerns raised by Sandinista health officials in Managua that one of its embassy staff workers was infected with Ebola during a recent mission to Liberia, West Africa.
"In no moment was he in contact with Ebola patients," the U.S. embassy said in statement, following a live broadcast by government health workers claiming the exact opposite.
The embassy said the staffer, whose identity has not been released, was fully examined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta after coming back from Africa and prior to his return to Nicaragua.
"The CDC was in direct contact with Nicaraguan authorities and told them of the staff worker's imminent return to Nicaragua, and confirmed that he did not have any symptoms of the disease," the embassy's statement reads. "The staffer continues to not have any systems related to the disease."
The embassy added that it had informed Nicaraguan health authorities about the trip two weeks ago, and they had approved his return to Managua afterwards.
Nicaraguan officials, however, are suddenly affecting high alert for an Ebola outbreak in the Central American country.
The Sandinista government today issued an alert for the Ebola virus and established a public-health perimeter around the house of the U.S. embassy staffer who recently returned from Liberia.
Nicaraguan health workers said the 51-year-old diplomat has been restricted from leaving his home while the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega tries to coordinate his removal from the country and return to the U.S.
"We want to inform you about the entry to our country of a 51-year-old North American citizen, who works at the Embassy of the United States in Nicaragua, and who was in health installations for Ebola patients, something that he confirmed," government health official Dr. Carlos Sáenz said during a Monday afternoon press conference broadcast on live TV by government media.
This is the first suspected case of Ebola reported in Nicaragua. A previous suspected case in Honduras turned out to be a false alarm.