New York authorities have confirmed yesterday night that a doctor who returned to Harlem after working for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea that help treat patients with Ebola has himself been tested positive for the disease and has been put in isolation at a hospital in Manhattan.
Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York held a press conference at Bellevue hospital where he confirmed the diagnosis of the named patient, Dr Craig Spencer. He reassured the8 million residents of the city that there was a minimal risk of it spreading any further. However it has been revealed this morning that the patient had travelled in taxis and on the underground train system since returning to the US on 17th October.
“There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed,” de Blasio said. “Being on the same subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk.”
Already there has been anxiety over the disease in the US, with two nurses in Dallas, Texas contracting the disease after helping in the treatment of a Liberian man, who was the first to die from the disease on US soil.
However, it has appeared that Dr Spencer was taking steps to monitor his own health for symptoms since returning from Liberia, and detecting he had a temperature was quick to alert the health authorities on Thursday. His fiancé is reported to also be in the hospital under quarantine observation.
New York Health Commissioner, Mary Travis Bassett, has also said that two of the patient’s friends have been put in strict quarantine out of caution. She also stressed that Dr Spencer, aged 33 did not show any symptoms while travelling the city, meaning that he was not contagious at the time. However there has been an effort by officials to identify and locate other people that might have had contact with the patient.
Dr Craig Spencer is a specialist in international emergency medicine at Columbia University/New York Hospital in New York City and has been so since 2011. The hospital he worked at released in a statement:
“He is a committed and responsible physician who always puts his patients first. He has not been to work at our hospital and has not seen any patients at our hospital since his return from overseas.”