Tags: Ebola Outbreak | nurse | quarantine | ebola | christie

Quarantined Nurse Will Be Allowed to Go Home

By    |   Monday, 27 October 2014 09:42 AM

New Jersey officials say a nurse who was quarantined after working in West Africa with Ebola patients is being released.

The state Health Department said in a statement Monday that Kaci Hickox had been symptom-free for 24 hours and would be taken on a private carrier to Maine.

Hickox has complained about her treatment in New Jersey and was talking about suing. She was the first person forced into a mandatory quarantine in the state, announced Friday by. Gov. Chris Christie for people arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport from three West African countries.

“To put me through this emotional and physical stress is completely unacceptable,” Hickox said in an interview on CNN this weeken. She was detained Oct. 24 after returning from a month-long assignment with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, one of three nations at the center of the current outbreak.

Christie has defended his decision to impose the mandatory quarantine of health-care workers entering New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in an interview with Fox News Sunday, saying it was necessary to protect the public health of people in the state. New York and Illinois have implemented similar policies. Christie had described Hickox as “obviously ill” in earlier statements.

For Christie, “a politician who’s trusted and respected, to make a statement that’s categorically not true is just unacceptable and appalling,” Hickox said. Hickox has no symptoms and has tested negative for the disease.

Under the New Jersey and New York policies, quarantines for high-risk travelers from any of the three West African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak would last 21 days, the incubation period of the virus. Others who travel from the region and haven’t had direct patient contact will be actively monitored and quarantined only if necessary.

In New York, quarantined travelers will be allowed to stay in their homes with their families, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference tonight. They would be subject to unannounced visits from state or local health-department workers twice daily for check-ups.

That’s a looser standard than in New Jersey.

‘Just Inhumane’

“To put me in prison is just inhumane,” Hickox told CNN, saying the way the quarantine is implemented “doesn’t make sense.” Medical experts, not politicians, should be making policy decisions, she said. By the same logic, if health-care workers returning from Ebola-stricken African nations are put in isolation, those caring for Ebola patients in the U.S. also should be quarantined, she said.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio addressed Hickox’s treatment in a press conference over the weekend, saying it was inappropriate and made her feel she had done something wrong when she hadn’t.

“This hero coming back from the front was treated with disrespect,” he said. “We have to think how we treat people who are doing this noble work and we must show them respect and consideration.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection, while not commenting on Hickox’s account, praised health-care workers who volunteer in West Africa. U.S. officials must “treat them with respect when they return home while continuing to take action to protect Americans so Ebola does not spread here,” it said in a statement.

Ebola Threat

Christie had said the threat of Ebola is too serious for a voluntary program. The virus has infected more than 10,000 people in West Africa, and killed about half.

The new policies in New Jersey, New York and Illinois go beyond guidelines from the CDC, though national agencies are weighing whether they should tighten rules. Health-care professionals have said that mandatory quarantines could deter caregivers from volunteering to fight the outbreak at its source in West Africa.

The White House has expressed concern to governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states of unintended consequences of “policies not grounded in science,” according to a senior Obama administration official.

“Our overriding concern remains the health and safety of the American people,” the official said. “That is precisely why we have been deliberate to ensure our actions are consistent with our approach to fighting this epidemic at its source.”

Lack of Clarity

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, said in a statement that there’s an absence of clarity of the new protocols and could not comment on the guidelines.

“There is a notable lack of clarity about the new guidelines announced yesterday by state authorities in New York and New Jersey,” said Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF. “We are attempting to clarify the details of the protocols with each state’s departments of health to gain a full understanding of their requirements and implications.”

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A nurse held for three days under an Ebola quarantine outside of a New Jersey hospital will be able to go home to serve out the rest of her isolation, Gov. Chris Christie said in a brief interview this morning. Christie told reporters that she would likely be moved later...
nurse, quarantine, ebola, christie
Monday, 27 October 2014 09:42 AM
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