The passenger whose on-board illness and West African travel origin raised concerns about Ebola has tested negative for the disease, according to the N.J. Department of Health.
The unidentified health care worker was originally taken directly from the plane – while it was still on the tarmac – to Hackensack University Medical Center, one of three N.J. hospitals that stand ready to evaluate a suspected case of Ebola. She arrived at the hospital Monday afternoon, just hours after her flight from Brussels landed at Newark Liberty International Airport.
“The patient was evaluated overnight for a gastrointestinal illness and was determined not to have Ebola,” said department spokeswoman Donna Leusner in a written release.
“The patient did not have direct contact with an Ebola patient during the past 21 days and, therefore, quarantine under New Jersey policy is not required…She will be monitored for 21 days just like all travelers who are returning to the US from the affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.”
Her improved health – combined with her negative Ebola tests – meant she could be released Tuesday evening, according to the hospital.
“In an abundance of caution, the patient was kept overnight on January 19 for further evaluation,” said Joseph Feldman, chairman of emergency services at the hospital. “The symptoms experienced while inflight, such as vomiting and fever, have since subsided. The patient is recovering well and has regained an appetite.”
Passengers on a United flight from Brussels were startled to see masked public health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention board the plane upon its arrival at Newark. Several posted photos and comments on Twitter as they speculated about the cause.
The health worker had vomited on the flight and was feverish, according to public safety officials.
United officials indicated passengers were given forms to fill out, providing contact information and instructing them to monitor their health over the virus’ 21-day incubation period.
Newark Liberty is one of five airports nationwide that were designated in October as U.S. points of entry for all passengers originating in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, the West African nations hardest hit by Ebola outbreaks last year. The other are John F. Kennedy International, Washington-Dulles, Atlanta-Hartsfield and Chicago-O’Hare.