Features the same – no new pockmarks or Gothic cavities,
But her face looks different in almost every photograph:
Soft and smiling in a maidenly way;
Plain, drawn, dunned;
Professional poise – jaw set firm to produce the seeming smile;
Suburban respectable complete with regrettable hairdo;
Puffed up with pain;
Epitome of relief (visibly tired but no longer pitiable).
The many faces of Pauline Cafferkey are also expressions of the Ebola virus passing through her body and brain after she contracted the disease while volunteering as a Save the Children nurse in Sierra Leone in 2014.
On three separate occasions during the past two years Nurse Cafferkey has been confined to the high-level isolation tent in North London’s Royal Free Hospital. On two of these occasions her condition was designated ‘critical’, i.e. likely to die.
Strict protocols – in theory to prevent Ebola entering Britain,
But in practice these were applied inconsistently:
Returning volunteers muddling in with everyone else at Border Control;
Belatedly siphoned off separately for medical screening;
Reading their own thermometers because not enough staff;
Allowed to proceed even if reportedly running a temperature;
Hugs all round the baggage carousel – no more ‘no touch’ policy;
Home on the Tube or next plane to Glasgow – told to avoid crowds afterwards.
In keeping with these inconsistencies, the public profile of Nurse Cafferkey is suitably ambiguous: on the one hand a medal-winning hero whose dedication to the lives of others nearly cost her her own; on the other hand a risk to public safety recently charged with ‘allowing an incorrect temperature to be recorded’ on her return to Heathrow, and ‘intending to conceal’ from public health officials the raised temperature which turned out to be the first sign of haemorrhagic fever.
If the Nursing and Midwifery Council finds Cafferkey culpable on these counts she may be struck off the medical register.
Previously, it was widely reported that at Heathrow on 29 December 2014 the nurse’s temperature had been taken six times by public health staff before she was cleared to go home to Blantyre in South Lanarkshire.