Both US nurses who contracted Ebola while caring for a patient from Liberia have recovered from the potentially deadly disease, the hospitals that treated them said on Friday.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH), located near Washington DC, held a news conference to celebrate the recovery of the first nurse diagnosed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The nurse got the virus after providing care for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on 8 October.
"Our patient, Nina Pham, is free of Ebola virus," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH, told reporters, citing five consecutive negative PCR tests that determine if a patient has the virus.
"She has no virus in her. She feels well ...She looks extraordinarily well," Fauci said, adding that the NIH did not administer any experimental drug to Pham, who was transferred to the NIH's clinical center for treatment on 16 October.
"We provided her with supportive care," he said. "One of the most important things in bringing back an Ebola patient to health is to give them the kind of medical general support to allow their own body to then be able to fight off the virus and essentially get rid of the virus."
Pham, who was present at the conference with her mother and sister, read a brief statement and did not answer questions.
"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said. "I am on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate."
Pham thanked everyone involved in her care, especially Kent Brantly, who donated plasma to her.
Brantly was the first of the five American patients who contracted the virus in West Africa and were later brought home for treatment. All five patients have successfully recovered.
The nurse also asked for privacy as she prepared to return to Texas, where she said she is looking forward to trying to "get back to a normal life" and reuniting with her dog, Bentley.
About an hour later, Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where Pham's colleague Amber Vinson, the second of two nurses diagnosed with the disease, has been undergoing treatment since 15 October, released a statement, saying Vinson "is making progress in her treatment for Ebola virus infection".
"Tests no longer detect the virus in her blood. She remains within Emory's Serious Communicable Diseases Unit for continued supportive care. We do not have a discharge date at this time," the hospital said.
The good news for the nurses came just a day after Craig Spencer, a physician who had treated Ebola patients in Guinea while working for Doctors Without Borders, was diagnosed with the virus in New York City.
The US hospitals have treated a total of nine cases of Ebola, only the Liberian, Duncan, died of the virus.
Obama Hugs Nurse who Survived Ebola
US President Barack Obama greeted nurse Nina Pham, the first person in the country to contract the deadly virus, in the Oval Office with a big hug to celebrate her recovery from the Ebola.
Obama met Pham, 26, in the White House, where photographers immortalised an embrace that reflected the president's wish to calm American citizens following the arrival of Ebola in the country.
The meeting was closed to the press and only photographers were allowed in the Oval Office to record the event.
The nurse, who in a Dallas hospital contracted the virus while looking after a Liberian infected with Ebola, was released on Friday morning from the medical centre of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, where she was treated.
NIH authorities said in a communique that Pham was "free" of the virus, and soon afterwards the nurse left the medical centre.
Before her meeting with Obama, she did not have to pass through any checkpoint or additional control, since she had submitted to five different tests to confirm that she no longer had the virus, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.