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Covid-19: US health department staff sent to meet citizens returning from China weren’t protected, claims whistleblower

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m833 (Published 02 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m833

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  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A senior employee of the US Department of Health and Human Services has filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that untrained staff were sent without proper protective equipment to meet the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China.

The government employees greeted the returning Americans in an aircraft hangar, the whistleblower reported in a formal complaint. They later saw them again to hand out coloured ribbons for identification and a third time to give them room keys for their quarantine at US airbases.

But some of the employees were disconcerted when they saw staff from the US Centers for Disease Control working alongside them in “full gown, gloves, and hazmat attire,” says the complaint, which has been seen by the Washington Post.

The health department workers were drawn from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), used normally to help disaster victims access …

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