U.S. nurse who defied Ebola quarantine has N.B. neighbours nervous
Published Thursday, October 30, 2014 10:55PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, October 31, 2014 11:51AM ADT
An American nurse’s bold act of defiance is making her Canadian neighbours nervous.
Kaci Hickox, who volunteered in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders, was the first person forced into New Jersey's mandatory quarantine for people arriving at the Newark airport from three West African countries.
But Hickox contends there's no need for quarantine because she's showing no symptoms and has vowed to defy the state's quarantine for health-care workers who treat Ebola patients.
Hickox spent the weekend in a tent in New Jersey before traveling to the home she shares with her boyfriend, a nursing student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
She was seen stepping outside her home Wednesday evening to talk to reporters and she left her home again on Thursday to go for a bike ride.
The news of her bike ride spread quickly across Fort Kent, a town of 4,300 residents, and spilled across the border to its Canadian cousin, Clair, N.B.
Sandra Moran lives in Clair and visits Fort Kent frequently. She admits she is concerned about coming into contact with Hickox.
“It’s worrying. I have two kids and I go to Fort Kent regularly, so it’s still worrying,” says Moran.
Fort Kent and Clair are joined by a bridge that not only links two communities and countries, but also families, friendship and commerce.
Some Fort Kent residents said they don’t feel threatened by Hickox’s presence, but they do feel she is being irresponsible and drawing negative attention to their community.
Media from across North America have descended on Hickox’s home to watch her movements and trace her steps.
The Canada Border Services Agency says it is prepared in case Hickox attempts to cross the border into Canada. Officials say she would be referred to a quarantine officer for a mandatory health assessment.
But Linda Charette, who runs a gift shop in Clair, says the situation has her feeling uneasy.
“Being a nurse, to me, she should go to the hospital and have herself checked to make sure she don’t have it because we’re right across the border and we go often and the States being so close, gets us nervous over here,” says Charette.
State police plan to monitor Hickox’s movements and interactions, but troopers cannot take her into custody without a judge's permission.
The nurse’s actions have prompted state officials to seek a court order to detain her for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10.
Ebola, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, has killed thousands of people in Africa, but only four people have been diagnosed with it in the United States. People can't be infected just by being near someone who's sick, and people aren't contagious unless they're sick, health officials say.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Andy Campbell and The Associated Press