A top U-S public health official criticized the governors of New York and New Jersey for imposing a three-week-long quarantine on health care workers returning from West Africa if they had direct contact with Ebola patients.
“We need those health care workers,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “So we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go.”
Fauci spoke on “Fox News Sunday” and later made similar comments on CNN.
The first health care worker to be quarantined under the policy, Kaci Hickox, likened her treatment to being in prison.
“I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” she said in an interview on CNN.
She also criticized Gov. Chris Christie for saying that she was “obviously ill.” According to an account she wrote for the Dallas Morning News, Hickox had been rushed to University Hospital in Newark after a forehead scanner read her temperature as 101. At the hospital, however, a reading with an oral thermometer showed her temperature to be normal, she wrote. A preliminary test for the Ebola virus has turned out to be negative, but health experts say it can take up to 21 days for patients to develop indications that can be detected.
Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated they will stick by their order, which was imposed Friday afternoon, and applies to any individual returning to Newark Liberty or John F. Kennedy Airport believed to have direct contact with Ebola patients.
“When you’re dealing with something as serious as this, we can’t count on a voluntary system,” Christie said on the Fox News show. “This is government’s job. If anything else, the government’s job is to protect the safety and health of our citizens.”
Cuomo, in an interview on WNBM Radio in the Bronx Sunday morning, predicted health care workers would not object to the quarantine.
“If they’re a health care worker volunteered to go over there to help people, and believe they may have been exposed to the virus,” Cuomo said, “They’re not going to want to come back and infect people anyway.”