(WPRI) — An NBC news freelance cameraman originally from Providence has arrived in Nebraska for treatment. Ashoka Mukpo, 33, was documenting the Ebola outbreak in Liberia working as a photographer last week when he contracted the disease.
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Mukpo arrived by ambulance Monday and will be kept in an isolation unit inside Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He is the fifth American to be taken to the United States for treatment since the start of Ebola outbreak.
At a news conference Monday, Mukpo’s parents said their son isn’t sure how he contracted the virus, especially since there was a lot of opportunity for him to be exposed while he filmed inside and around a clinic. His father, Mitchell Levy, said Ashoka mentioned he may have been splashed while helping to clean the vehicle of someone that had been infected.
Levy said his son felt a strong connection to the Liberian people and their culture, and couldn’t be dissuaded to return to the country.
“Our son is very strong-willed and determined, and has always lived by his integrity,” he explained. “He really thought this is what he’s trained for, and that he had to do it. He felt that he understood the risks and he is putting himself in harm’s way, but that’s how he wants to live his life.”
Mukpo’s only regret was putting his parents through this ordeal, according to Levy, who also said he expects his son will eventually return to that line of work.
Levy and his wife, Diana, said they were able to speak with Ashoka through a webcam, which came as an enormous relief to them.
A doctor from Massachusetts was treated at the same hospital just last month, and over the weekend he was admitted to a Worcester hospital with respiratory issues. But, late Sunday night the Centers for Disease Control announced Dr. Rick Sacra has once again tested negative for the Ebola virus.
The same team that cared for Sacra will care for Mukpo. It consists of more than 40 members, but continues to grow as more staff is trained to treat Ebola.
Meanwhile, the monitoring continues for the first American diagnosed with Ebola after flying from Liberia to Texas last month. Thomas Eric Duncan has been battling the disease and is fighting for his life.
“We understand that his situation has taken a turn for the worse, we know that Ebola is a very serious disease and we’re hoping for his recovery,” Tom Frieden, Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.