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Obama: Ebola Quarantines Must Be Based on Science

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac with Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Mike Michaud, after he arrived on Air Force One at the Portland International Jetport, Oct. 30, 2014.

President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac with Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Mike Michaud, after he arrived on Air Force One at the Portland International Jetport, Oct. 30, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the decision to quarantine health workers who had direct contact with Ebola patients should be based on science, nor fear.

The White House was commenting on the case of a nurse in Maine, who is defying a mandatory 21-day quarantine after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

Kaci Hickox says she has no symptoms, has tested negative for Ebola, and says the quarantine violates her civil rights. She refused to comply with the state's order by going on a bicycle ride with her boyfriend Thursday.

Twenty-one days is the Ebola incubation period, and Maine officials say they will go to court to enforce the quarantine. Governor Paul LePage says he will use all his legal authority to force Hickox to comply.

The governor's office says negotiations to allow her to go for walks and bike rides but stay away from public places have failed.

A White House spokesman says the president believes it is up to Maine and other states to decide on quarantine policies. But the president has said such polices should be sensible and based on science, not fear.

Also Thursday, the World Bank pledged $100 million to help recruit more foreign health care workers to treat Ebola patients in West Africa.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Thursday the additional aid, along with $400 million already sent to West Africa, "can help be a catalyst for a rapid surge" of additional health workers.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told a group of European leaders in Brussels Thursday that the world has to
dig deeper" to fight Ebola, calling it the greatest public health crisis ever. Power said no one can afford to sit on the sidelines.

"This is a crisis that is so vast, with needs so great, with potential consequences so dire, that no country can afford to stand on the sidelines. A few are doing a lot, but a lot are doing very little or nothing at all. It is well past time to join what is a historic, ground-breaking, life-saving mission. A noble mission."

Power came to Brussels from West Africa where Ebola has killed nearly 5,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, the global medical charity Doctors Without Borders says mandatory quarantines for U.S. health care workers are having a "chilling effect" on its ability to fight Ebola in West Africa.

The group says the quarantines for those returning from Africa are not based on established medical science.

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