Ebola nurse breaks quarantine order | News | DW | 30.10.2014
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Ebola nurse breaks quarantine order

A US nurse has left her home in defiance of a voluntary quarantine order imposed on medical staff who have worked with Ebola patients. Kaci Hickox is reported to have taken a bicycle ride with her boyfriend.

Kaci Hickox was followed by police when she defied the isolation measures on Thursday. However, officers were unable to detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

The 33-year-old and her boyfriend left their home in the Maine town of Fort Kent and rode off on bicycles.

The US nurse had volunteered in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders. She was the first person to go into New Jersey's mandatory quarantine for people arriving at Newark airport from West African countries worst hit by the virus.

Hickox had insisted she should not go into quarantine because she had no Ebola symptoms and had also tested negative for the disease.

State officials are reported to be applying for a court order to detain the nurse for the remainder of her 21-day incubation period due to end on November 10.

It was the second time she had broken her quarantine order. She briefly left her home on Wednesday evening to speak to reporters.

"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," she told waiting press.

One of her lawyers, Norman Siegel also said, "There's a lot of misinformation about how Ebola is transmitted, and I can understand why people are frightened. But their fear is not based on medical facts."

US quarantine quandry

Guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended daily monitoring for health care workers who had come into contact with Ebola patients.

Some US states had imposed automatic 21-day quarantines on doctors and nurses returning from treating Ebola patients in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The Kaci Hickox case has revealed a growing divide between government agencies and individual state health departments in their interpretation of the guidelines.

The latest figures from the World Health Organization show more than 4,900 people had been killed by the virus, out of up to 14,000 cases.

Just four people had tested positive for the disease in the US since the outbreak began in February.

lw/kms (AP, Reuters)

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