Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr went on a humanitarian aid mission to Dallas in order to ensure that Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US, receives the best possible medical care.
Duncan, who was moved to the States from Liberia where he was an aid worker, could face prosecution back in the African country because officials claim that he lied about his exposure to the disease on his travel forms.
UPDATE: Thomas Eric Duncan Dies Of Ebola
Jackson arrived in the Texas city on Tuesday after a request for help from Duncan's family.
"Thomas deserves the love and the best medical treatment America can afford as has happened for all the other Americans who have contracted this terrible disease," the civil rights activist told Fox News.
"He must be treated as a patient with all the human rights deserved, not as a criminal."
He reiterated his point on Twitter, posting that the patient should "not be shunned" and urging medics to "kill the disease and not the person".
Duncan was given the experimental drug brincidofovir following a worsening of his condition over the weekend. Despite this, however, Jackson claims the hospital has held back on giving him the best medicine.
"Now there's such a national concern about it he's getting an experimental drug. We're gonna hope and pray that it is successful," he said. He went on to claim that Duncan had been sent home from the hospital, despite showing symptoms of the disease, "because he didn't have insurance".
Just arrived in Texas to go and pray with the family of Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan. pic.twitter.com/0ZHNJtj6hpRev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) October 7, 2014
Alongside 100 local pastors, Jackson also met with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings during his trip. Together with Duncan’s family, he held a prayer vigil for the patient, before sharing a story about Jesus praying over lepers in quarantine. A number of hospital workers in lab coats and scrubs attended the vigil after hearing about it via an email.
"He was firm in his love for the person fighting the disease," Jackson told them. "We must have that same sense of love for Thomas, to embrace him and fight this disease."
Praying with Thomas Eric Duncan's mother, sister and nephews. pic.twitter.com/b3AiTpIyLGRev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) October 7, 2014
"I'm just praying my dad will make it out safely," Karsiah Duncan, Thomas Duncan’s son, told news crews outside the Wilshire Baptist Church where the vigil was held.
See the Ebola outbreak mapped
See the Ebola outbreak mapped
1/7 25 March 2014
This outbreak of the Ebola virus first emerged in the Guéckédou region of Guinea, at a crossroads with both Liberia and Sierra Leone
2/7 31 March
On 31 March the WHO confirmed the outbreak was now international, spreading first into Liberia's northern-most Lofa region
3/7 27 May
The virus spread to Sierra Leone at the end of May - just as agencies were hoping the worst was over
4/7 27 July
In Sierra Leone the virus boomed, and then it spread to Nigeria when the Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer flew from Monrovia to Lagos
5/7 9 August
The Nigeria cases sparked fears around the world, and there have now been deaths in Spain and Saudi Arabia involving people who had travelled to West Africa. The numbers of cases continue to rise
6/7 17-20 September
In mid-September, Senegal confirmed its first case linked to the Ebola outbreak, a development the WHO described as a top priority emergency. Numbers of cases continued to grow exponentially in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as experts warned they could number one million by January if not contained
7/7 8 October
Two cases of Ebola have now been reported in the US and Europe - the first times the virus has been contracted among health workers outside Africa
Meanwhile, Texas State Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey said the city needed to "be prepared for what could happen" if any of the 48 people who came into contact with Duncan before he was admitted to the hospital were found to be infected with the disease.
Ten of those people are said to be at "high risk".
"If any of the family members God forbid becomes ill, we need to be ready," he said.