UNITED NATIONS — The U.S. ambassador who just returned from the three West African countries worst hit by Ebola said Friday she's self-monitoring for the virus like anyone else.
Samantha Power, the envoy to the United Nations, has been openly critical of the quarantine restrictions that some U.S. states have struggled to put in place as fear spreads over the worst outbreak of the disease in history.
She described herself as "low-risk" and said she had not gone into Ebola treatment units while visiting Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea. Now, following federal guidelines, she checks her temperature and calls health authorities twice a day. She also didn't hesitate to shake hands Friday.
Power tweeted a photo of a mask-and-glove-wearing official checking her temperature after she arrived at a New York City airport late Thursday.
"We went through this with HIV /AIDS," Power said of the fears around Ebola. "We have to tell the story of where risk does and doesn't exist."
She said hundreds of health workers have returned from West Africa and that authorities need to show that cases like the recently infected New York doctor are rare.
Power's visit this week was meant to turn the spotlight from the few Ebola cases in the U.S. back to West Africa, where nearly 5,000 people have died.
She said that while the number of Ebola infections is rising, the rate of infections is now decreasing, a hopeful sign.
The U.N. envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro, told reporters later Friday that the latest numbers indicating a slowing rate in Liberia are "exciting," but he was cautious. "We are checking to see whether the data are a reflection of what's actually happening," he said. "Even if we have reduction in the rate of increase, that doesn't mean the outbreak is under control."
Power praised the United States response to the outbreak and called on other countries to do more.
"I went on this trip because I and the president had the sense that other countries were not stepping up sufficiently," she said.
The ambassador expressed her hope that France and the European Union would work more to coordinate with officials in French-speaking Guinea.
She again praised Cuba, a country under a decades-long U.S. embargo, for sending hundreds of medical workers to West Africa to respond to the outbreak. "We are working side by side, as it were," she said.
Power noted that China's response is "steadily increasing." And she thanked Air France, Brussels Airlines and Royal Air Maroc for continuing to fly to the region at a time when many airlines and shipping companies have cut ties, harming the economies of the Ebola-hit countries and hurting efforts to deliver aid workers.
Sierra Leone's ambassador to the United Nations, Vandi Chidi Minah, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others have been invited to visit the region, but it was too early to announce anything.