CONAKRY/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, arrived in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Sunday on a mission to see first hand how the global response is failing to stop the deadly spread of Ebola in West Africa.
As Power arrived in West Africa, new rules in three US states mandating quarantine for health workers returning from the Ebola-stricken region drew criticism, even as some US lawmakers called for a travel ban on the three worst-hit countries. Power, who will also visit Sierra Leone and Liberia, said she hopes to gain a better understanding of what resources are missing so she can push other countries to offer more help.
Power, a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, left Washington on Saturday bound for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Obama has resisted Republican calls for a travel ban on advice from health officials who say such a measure would be counter-productive.
Along with New York and New Jersey, Illinois has now imposed quarantines for anyone arriving with a risk of having contracted Ebola in West Africa. But the first person isolated under the new rules called her treatment a “frenzy of disorganisation.”
Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone, arrived at Newark airport on Friday and was questioned by protective-gear clad officials amid what she said was a mis-diagnosis of fever, followed by a transfer to a hospital isolation tent.
Hickox said she feared for what lies ahead for other US health workers trying to help combat the epidemic that has killed thousands in West Africa.
“Will they be made to feel like criminals and prisoners?” she wrote in an article published on Saturday by The Dallas Morning News on its website. “I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganisation, fear and, most frightening, quarantine,” wrote Hickox, of charity Doctors Without Borders. New York and New Jersey imposed 21-day quarantines after a New York City doctor was diagnosed with the disease on Thursday, days after returning home from working with patients in Guinea.
The doctor’s case and the fact he was out and about in the city in the period before his symptoms emerged set off renewed worries in the United States about the spread of the disease.