US nurse Kaci Hickox bikes away, despite Ebola quarantine

Nurse Kaci Hickox (left) and her boyfriend Ted Wilbur address the media during an informal meeting with the news media outside their home in Fort Kent, Maine on Oct 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Nurse Kaci Hickox (left) and her boyfriend Ted Wilbur address the media during an informal meeting with the news media outside their home in Fort Kent, Maine on Oct 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A United States nurse who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Africa took a bike ride early Thursday despite a state order to stay at home in quarantine.

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend rode their bicycles away from their house in the northeastern state of Maine as a gaggle of media looked on and cameras rolled, CNN reported.

The pair were wearing bicycle helmets and did not speak to reporters. Two police cars followed them as they rode away.

Controversy is raging about measures taken in some US states, such as New Jersey and New York, quarantine individuals returning from treating Ebola-infected patients in west Africa.

Hickox was kept in an isolation tent for three days after she returned to the US from Sierra Leone.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie let her go on Monday, and she was driven to Maine. But there the state imposed its own quarantine.

Hickox has vowed to fight the state of Maine, which wants to keep her in quarantine for the 12 days that remain of the virus' 21-day incubation period.

But Maine said it will seek a court order to keep her at her home if necessary.

"They will not allow me to leave my house and have any interaction with the public, even though I am completely healthy and symptom-free," Hickox said as her boyfriend stood beside her home in the town of Fort Kent late Wednesday.

Hickox said that if the state does go to court to force her to stay isolated until Nov 10, she will file a challenge, NBC News reported.

"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," the nurse said.

President Barack Obama has sought to reassure the public amid the controversy over quarantine measures imposed by some authorities including the Pentagon.

Speaking at the White House after meeting with returned health workers Wednesday, Obama said those who volunteer on the front lines should be applauded for their service.