UNITED STATES, Oct 25 – President Obama met Nina Pham, a Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola and was declared free of the virus Friday. Obama and Pham hugged in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon. Pham, 26, was the first American nurse to contract the virus. She cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who was stricken with the virus in his home country and became sick after arriving in Dallas. Duncan died this month.
A second nurse who cared for Duncan also contracted the virus. Amber Vinson, 29, no longer has the virus, according to a statement put out by her family. She remains at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., last week. She walked out of the facility Friday morning.
“She has no virus in her,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a news conference. “She feels well. She looks extraordinarily well.” Pham read a statement after being released, saying she felt fortunate and blessed “to be standing here today.” She said she is “on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate.”
At his daily press briefing White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president’s decision to greet Pham upon her release from NIH was “an opportunity, first of all, to thank her for her service.” It also spoke to the strength of the U.S. public health system, Earnest added, saying it was “a pretty apt reminder that we do have the best medical infrastructure in the world.”
When White House officials found out early Friday that Pham would be released, Earnest said, they contacted N.I.H. “to let her know that the president was interested in meeting her if she felt up to it.” Pham did not undergo any additional medical testing before greeting—and hugging—the president, Earnest said, noting that she had been shown to be free of the virus on five separate occasions before being released.
A doctor in New York City tested positive for the virus Thursday. Craig Spencer, 33, treated Ebola patients in Guinea and returned to the United States on Oct. 17.