NEW YORK, USA – A US nurse, whose enforced quarantine in New Jersey sparked a furious backlash after she returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, was discharged on Monday, October 27, officials said.
Kaci Hickox complained bitterly about being placed under mandatory quarantine Friday, claiming she was made to feel like a criminal after being isolated in a tent without a shower or flush toilet.
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that the nurse was being released, a day after New York eased strict new quarantine orders under pressure from President Barack Obama’s administration.
A spokeswoman for University Hospital in Newark, where Hickox was held in a tent outside the main building and made to wear paper scrubs, confirmed that she left shortly after 1 pm (1700 GMT).
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday criticized her confinement and praised Hickox for her bravery in traveling to West Africa to treat patients suffering from the virus.
“Her service and commitment to this cause is something that should be honored and respected, and I don’t think we do that by making her live in a tent for two or three days,” he said Monday.
Christie’s office and New Jersey’s department of health said the patient remained symptom-free after testing negative for Ebola, and would be driven to her home state of Maine by private carrier – not via public transport or commercial jet.
Hickox, who had been helping treat patients in Sierra Leone before flying home via Newark International Airport, was kept in a tent equipped with a bed, non-flush chemical toilet and no shower.
“I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” she told CNN on Saturday, insisting she was not contagious because she has shown no symptoms and tested negative for the disease.
Criticized by UN chief
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday became the latest public figure to voice concern over quarantine restrictions, saying they put unnecessary pressure on health care workers.
“They should not be subjected to restrictions that are not based on science. Those who develop infections should be supported, not stigmatized,” he said.
Officials at the White House believe the strict rules, which were enforced by New Jersey, New York and Illinois, could deter health workers from helping fight the epidemic in West Africa.
“We want to make sure that whatever policies are put in place in this country to protect the American public do not serve as a disincentive to doctors and nurses from this country volunteering to travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients,” said Earnest.
The governors of Maryland and Virginia, states bordering the federal capital Washington, said travelers arriving from the worst-hit countries would be subject to 21-day home monitoring.
On Monday, a 5-year-old child admitted with Ebola-like symptoms to New York’s Bellevue Hospital, tested negative for the virus.
The child developed a low-grade fever on Monday after being admitted to hospital and recently traveled from one of the 3 Ebola epidemic countries in West Africa.
“The result of the test is negative,” the city health department announced. “Out of an abundance of caution, further negative Ebola tests are required on subsequent days to ensure that the patient is cleared.”
The child will remain under isolation until all tests have been returned, including those for common viruses, it said.
New York’s first confirmed case of the disease, Craig Spencer, remains in a serious but stable condition at Bellevue.
The African Advisory Council of the Bronx said Monday that two Senegalese children were admitted to hospital after being beaten up and called Ebola at a school in the Bronx, a New York City borough, on Friday. – Rappler.com
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