A health-care worker who was being tested for Ebola has been released from a B.C. hospital after a third round of results confirmed she does not have the virus.
Patrice Gordon – a nurse practitioner who travelled to Sierra Leone in November and returned to Canada on Christmas – checked herself into Kelowna General Hospital on Monday, after her temperature became slightly elevated.
Tests came back negative for Ebola on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, prompting Ms. Gordon's release from hospital. In a telephone briefing with reporters, Ms. Gordon said she had been confident all along that she did not have the virus – at least for the most part.
"It has been quite stressful just from the standpoint of knowing that my family's worried about me, and knowing that the public is worried, 'Do we have a patient zero in Canada?' And my going, 'Oh my god, I really don't want to be patient zero,'" she said.
Ms. Gordon had worked at the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre in the city of Kenema. Health-care workers returning from Ebola-affected countries must self-monitor for 21 days. Ms. Gordon was checking her temperature twice daily when she noticed a rise; she also had cold-like symptoms.
Ms. Gordon entered the hospital through a back entrance and was kept in isolation. She did not move through any public areas.
During the conference call, Ms. Gordon said the process flowed exactly as it should.
"It was as pleasant as it could possibly be," she said.
Ms. Gordon coughed throughout the call and said she felt a bit run down.
She said it was jarring how quickly her case moved into the spotlight.
"All of a sudden I was under the microscope and there were so many people looking. And I just felt like I was still just me, but I had a cold," she said.
Ms. Gordon said she feels a bit of guilt for drawing attention away from the situation in West Africa and onto herself.
And, despite the experience of the past few days, she said she hopes to go back.
"I think about it every 10 minutes. I go over it in my head, because I can't imagine not going back, to be honest," she said. "As we sit here and I glance at the time and I automatically do the calculation and think, 'I'd just be getting into my [protective equipment].'"
Ms. Gordon also shared stories of some of her experiences in Sierra Leone. She said it's the cases involving children that really tug at workers' hearts, including a young brother and sister who were orphaned as a result of the virus. The two children were quarantined themselves, though they were ultimately found to be healthy and released.
Ms. Gordon is one of 24 Canadian Red Cross workers to travel to West Africa. Stephane Michaud, senior manager of emergency operations for the group, said Ms. Gordon's negative test results were a relief.
On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization's African Regional Office reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea. Since then, cases have been reported in five additional West African countries.
As of earlier this week, the WHO said 19,497 cases of Ebola and 7,588 deaths have been reported.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal, illness in humans that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission.
The B.C. Ministry of Health has said seven people in the province, including Ms. Gordon, are currently in the 21-day self-monitoring period. It has said 16 people from the Ebola-affected countries have returned to British Columbia since August.