Ebola recovery medic to be released

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A New York City accident and emergency doctor who had Ebola has recovered and is due to be released from hospital, health officials said.

The city Department of Health said Craig Spencer “has been declared free of the virus”.

Dr Spencer tested positive on October 23, days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.

The 33-year-old has been treated in a specially designed isolation unit at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola treatment centre. His condition was upgraded from serious to stable last week and he was feeling well enough to request an exercise bike and a banjo.

His fiancee and two friends were initially quarantined but were released and are being actively monitored along with hundreds of others.

Dr Spencer is expected to issue a statement but not take questions when he is released from hospital.

News of his infection set many New Yorkers on edge, particularly after details emerged that he rode the subway, dined in a restaurant and visited a bowling alley in the days before he tested positive.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Chris Christie responded by announcing a mandatory 21-day quarantine for travellers who have come into close contact with Ebola patients.

Health officials have stressed that Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is showing symptoms.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mr Cuomo had urged residents not to be alarmed by the doctor’s Ebola diagnosis, even as they described him riding the subway and taking a cab. Mr de Blasio said all city officials followed “clear and strong” protocols in their handling and treatment of him.

“We want to state at the outset that New Yorkers have no reason to be alarmed,” he said when Dr Spencer was diagnosed. “New Yorkers who have not been exposed are not at all at risk.”

The Ebola epidemic in west Africa has killed thousands of people, but only a handful have been diagnosed in the United States. In the US, the first person diagnosed with the disease was a Liberian man who fell ill days after arriving in Dallas and later died, becoming the only fatality. None of his relatives who had close contact with him became sick. Two nurses who treated him were infected and were briefly treated in hospital.

Meanwhile, an Ebola nurse who fought quarantines in New Jersey and Maine says she is going to stay in southern Maine while she decides what to do next with her life.

Yesterday was the 21st day since Kaci Hickox’s last exposure to an Ebola patient and she will be freed from daily monitoring later today.

Ms Hickox says she and her boyfriend are leaving northern Maine because he is no longer enrolled at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, where they were disappointed with the way he was treated.

She says they intend to spend time in Freeport while sorting out their next move. She says she is considering returning to college and she would also return to west Africa “in a heartbeat”.

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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