US nurse quarantined for Ebola, leaves hospital

2014-10-27 22:32
Kaci Hickox. (AP)

Kaci Hickox. (AP)

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New York - 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, officials said.

Kaci Hickox complained bitterly about being placed under mandatory quarantine on 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 reversed strict new quarantine orders under pressure from the Obama administration.

A spokesperson 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 13:00.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest on Monday criticised her confinement and praised Hickox for her bravery in travelling to West Africa in a bid to treat patients suffering from the virus.

"Her service and commitment to this cause is something that should be honoured 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.

Criticised by UN chief

Christie's office said that "every effort" had been made to ensure that she remained comfortable, with access to a computer, cell phone, reading material and "nourishment of choice."

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 stigmatised," he said.

Officials at the White House believe the rules could also 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.

Separately, the governors of Maryland and Virginia, states bordering the federal capital Washington, said travellers arriving from the worst hit countries would be subject to 21-day home monitoring.

On Monday, a five-year-old child was being tested for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital, where New York's first confirmed case of the disease, Craig Spencer, is being treated in isolation.

The child developed a low grade fever on Monday morning after being admitted to hospital, the city health department said.

The African Advisory Council of the Bronx said on Monday that two Senegalese children were admitted to hospital after being beaten up and called Ebola at a school in the Bronx on Friday.

On Sunday, the state of New York state ended a mandatory isolation period for people who had no contact with an infected patient but who were returning from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.

Read more on:    us  |  ebola  |  west africa

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