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Obama thanks, hugs Dallas nurse

President Barack Obama meets with Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Friday. (Associated Press)
President Barack Obama meets with Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Friday. (Associated Press)

BETHESDA, Md. – A nurse who caught Ebola while caring for a Dallas patient who died of the disease walked out of a Washington-area hospital virus-free Friday and into open arms.

Nina Pham got a hug from President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House. And outside the hospital where she had been since last week, she got hugs from the nation’s infectious disease chief, who oversaw her care.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the meeting with Obama “an opportunity for the president to thank her for her service.” But the close contact between the president and the former patient also came as officials in New York tried to calm fears after a doctor was diagnosed with Ebola in that city.

Pham said she felt “fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” as she left the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where she had been since she arrived Oct. 16 from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters that five consecutive tests showed no virus left in her blood. Five tests is way beyond the norm, he stressed, but his team did extra testing because the NIH is a research hospital. He had walked out to the news conference with his arm around Pham and later gave her a big hug.

“She is cured of Ebola, let’s get that clear,” Fauci said.

Associated Press

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