While President Barack Obama spoke out strongly Wednesday against the states imposing quarantine protocols on health workers who served Ebola patients, British journalist Piers Morgan took the opposite stance calling the nurse who is most publicly protesting such quarantines "utterly selfish."
Nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned from West Africa where she treated Ebola patients with the group Doctors Without Borders, criticized the state of New Jersey for placing her into isolation after she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport, even though she exhibited no symptoms. It was later said Hickox developed a fever, something which she denies.
This undated image provided by University of Texas at Arlington shows Kaci Hickox. In a Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 telephone interview with CNN, Hickox, the nurse quarantined at a New Jersey hospital because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa, said the process of keeping her isolated is "inhumane." (AP/University of Texas at Arlington)
Hickox was transported to Maine earlier this week, a state which also seeks to quarantine health workers for 21 days after they've had close contact with Ebola patients. State police plan to monitor the woman's movements and interactions as she vowed to defy the state's quarantine. Officials were seeking a court order to detain Hickox for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10.
In a column for the U.K.'s Daily Mail, Morgan took on the issue:
Nurse Hickox, I keep being assured, is one of the most selfless human beings on Planet Earth. On the podium of public opinion right now she'd probably give Mother Teresa a run as Greatest Nurse in History.
Let's consider some hard facts.
She has just returned from Sierra Leone, one of the most Ebola-ravaged countries in the world.
More than 4,000 people have contracted the virus there so far, of whom 1,341 have died. It is estimated 5 people an HOUR are currently being infected and that rate is doubling every 20 days.
On October 19, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 129 cases of health workers in Sierra Leone infected with Ebola, of whom 95 had died – an appalling 73% fatality rate.
Nurse Hickox, working for the wonderful Doctors Without Borders, spent the last few weeks directly treating Ebola patients, immersing herself at the sharpest, most infectious end of the very epicentre of this dreadful disease.
When she flew back to America on Friday, Nurse Hickox explained to screeners at Newark Liberty airport where she had been and what she had been doing.
Understandably, they took her away for further questioning and she had her temperature taken. It showed a fever of 101 degrees.
Morgan, who left CNN earlier this year, wrote that New Jersey Gov. "Chris Christie did what any sane, rational person would surely do in his position: he immediately ordered Nurse Hickox to be placed in quarantine while further examinations were carried out."
Former CNN talk show host Piers Morgan attends a game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Staples Center on October 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.( Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
While Morgan didn't deny that Hickox's actions in West Africa were "astonishingly selfless," he said if he were heading a program to fight Ebola in the America, he "wouldn't trust America's medics to 'self-quarantine' because as we have seen, they will either refuse to comply or lie about it.
"I would make a 21-day quarantine mandatory for every single doctor and nurse who returns from treating Ebola patients in Africa," he wrote.
Despite the Ebola virus being somewhat difficult to catch — direct contact with infected bodily fluids transmits the disease — Morgan wrote that health care workers who have been exposed to such patients even when wearing personal protective equipment, like Hickox, should "stay inside her damn home for the next couple of weeks to ensure there's not a tiny scintilla of chance she could infect a fellow American."
"This advice is not in any medical journal. It's called 'common sense,'" he wrote.
Read Morgan's full post on the Daily Mail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Front page image via RoidRanger / Shutterstock.