New anti-Ebola measures adopted in three US states have been criticised by President Barack Obama following condemnation for their lack of clarity and the negative consequences they may have on the outbreak in Africa.
New York and New Jersey announced they would quarantine travelers passing through airports after having contact with Ebola-affected patients in West Africa. Illinois announced it would adopt the same policy.
The Obama administration said Sunday in a statement that the imposition of “certain measures” could unnecessarily dissuade medical personnel from volunteering in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
The first person to be affected by the new protocol, Kaci Hickox, told the CNN news channel that her unnecessary isolation was a violation of human rights and was unacceptable.
Hickox, a nurse who returned to the US after a stint with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, was isolated even after testing negative for the Ebola virus.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his New York counterpart, Andrew Cuomo, were widely criticised for the move, including by the federal authorities.
“The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those healthcare workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
He reiterated his support for the Obama administration’s position on tackling Ebola in West Africa by helping people there as the best measure to fight the epidemic.
Doctors Without Borders, in a statement, lamented the lack of clarity of the new state measures and underlined the necessity of ensuring proper treatment and the rights of health personnel returning from Africa.
In a related development, Craig Spencer, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in New York and whose case provoked the strong reaction from the authorities, was reported to be in serious, but stable, condition.
According to medical sources, Spencer is in the second stage of the disease and is being treated with the blood of an Ebola survivor.