Nurse Hickox settles with Maine over Ebola quarantine
The US nurse who spoke out against her forced quarantine after treating Ebola patients has reached an agreement with her home state of Maine.
Brunswick, Maine/Winston-Salem, N.C. — Maine has reached a settlement with a nurse who was briefly quarantined in her home after treating victims of Ebola in West Africa, allowing her to travel freely in public but requiring her to monitor her health closely and report any symptoms.
The settlement, filed in nurse Kaci Hickox's home town of Fort Kent, in Maine's far north, keeps in effect through Nov. 10 the terms of an order issued by a Maine judge on Friday.
Hickox returned to the United States last month after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was quarantined in a tent outside a hospital in New Jersey for four days despite showing no symptoms before being driven to her home in Maine.
A handful of states have imposed mandatory quarantines on health workers returning from three Ebola-ravaged West African countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while the federal government is wary of discouraging potential medical volunteers.
President Barack Obama will meet with his national security and health advisers on Tuesday for an update on the Ebola response.
The most deadly outbreak of Ebola on record has killed 4,951 people, mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
"The governor was outspoken in his views on the case. He was speaking for people in the state that had real fear about the risks," said Eric Saunders, an attorney for Hickox. "It's hard to deny the fear and the safety concerns. But at the same time, we have to bear in mind what the law and the science says." The Ebola virus is not airborne.
Representatives for both LePage and the Maine attorney general declined to comment.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday warned against "unnecessarily" strict restrictions on healthcare workers, saying their efforts were critical to stopping Ebola's spread in West Africa.
However, nearly 75 percent of Americans surveyed in a Reuters/Ipsos poll believe medics returning to the United States after treating people with Ebola should be quarantined, and 80 percent believe the healthcare workers' movements should be controlled.
Some states have restricted the movement of people returning to the United States from the stricken West African nations beyond guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Only one person in the United States is currently being treated for Ebola, a New York doctor, who is in stable condition.