Charlotte missionary David Writebol completed his 21-day quarantine Sunday and traveled to Atlanta, where he saw his wife for the first time since she was evacuated Aug. 5 to Emory University Hospital for treatment of Ebola virus disease.
“I have had the great joy to be able to look through the isolation room glass and see my beautiful wife again,” Writebol said in a statement issued by SIM USA, the Charlotte-based international mission group that has sponsored the couple’s work in Liberia.
“We both placed our hands on opposite sides of the glass, moved with tears to look at each other again. She was standing with her radiant smile, happy beyond words. She is continuing to slowly gain strength, eager for the day when the barriers separating us are set aside, and we can simply hold each other. We prayed together over the intercom, praising our great and mighty God for his goodness to us. ... My family and I look forward to her speedy restoration, and we give thanks for continued prayers on her behalf.”
Nancy Writebol, 59, was diagnosed with Ebola virus infection July 25 while she and her husband were working as missionaries in Monrovia, Liberia. She and Dr. Kent Brantly, the other American infected while working with Ebola patients in Liberia, are being treated at Emory hospital and have both received doses of an experimental antiviral medicine that has never been tested in humans.
On Friday, Brantly, 33, issued a statement saying that he is “recovering in every way.” And Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief agency sponsoring Brantly’s work in Liberia, issued a Facebook post last week saying Brantly “hopes to be released sometime in the near future” from Emory hospital.
David Writebol, 58, arrived in Charlotte Aug. 10, along with two other physician missionaries, and all three were placed under a legal quarantine on the 90-acre SIM campus until they pass 21 days since their first exposure to Ebola. Although the average incubation period, from exposure to onset of symptoms, is 8 to 10 days, the longest reported incubation has been 21 days, health officials said.
In a statement Monday, Writebol said Sunday marked the completion of his “21-day period of precautionary temperature and health monitoring and reporting as mandated by local and state public health authorities, with no symptoms of Ebola virus disease.”
The two doctors apparently continue under the quarantine, living in recreational vehicles on the SIM campus off Carowinds Boulevard. Dr. Stephen Keener, medical director of the Mecklenburg County Health Department, has said he will make an announcement when all three of the missionaries have finished their 21-day quarantine periods. They started on different days, depending on their first exposure to the virus.
“We’ve not going to be giving a daily status report,” Keener said. “When we’re done, we’ll make an announcement.”
Two other missionaries and their six children who arrived from Liberia last month have also been staying in RVs on the SIM campus. Unlike Writebol and the two doctors, they had not been exposed to Ebola and were isolating themselves voluntarily out of concern for others. They were not legally quarantined. It’s unclear whether they’ve passed the 21-day incubation period or whether they remain on the SIM campus.