New York City doctor Craig Spencer has been released from Bellevue Hospital Center after being deemed free of the Ebola virus.
"It's a very, very good day," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference Tuesday, at Bellevue Hospital Center. "Dr. Spencer is Ebola-free, and New York City is Ebola-free."
Spencer, 33, returned to the U.S. on Friday, Oct. 17 after working with Doctors Without Borders to treat Ebola patients in Guinea. After reporting symptoms of Ebola on Thursday, Oct. 23, he was transported to an isolation ward at Bellevue by ambulance, where he later tested positive for the virus. On Saturday, Nov. 1, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation updated Spencer's condition to "stable" from "serious but stable".
"I'm elated," said Ram Raju, M.D., president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, "because we were able to treat and cure a hero."
In what he said will be his only public statement, Spencer thanked Bellevue staff members for their "tremendous care and support" and expressed a sense of pride over his work and the work of his colleagues with Doctors Without Borders. He is a "living example", he said, "that early detection is critical in ensuring that [Ebola] is not transmitted to others."
Spencer was the fourth person diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. and the first in New York City.
He received experimental treatments, including antiviral therapy and a plasma transfusion from health worker Nancy Writebol, who survived Ebola after contracting it in Liberia. As his health improved in isolation, Spencer is reported to have passed the time playing his banjo, doing yoga and riding a stationary exercise bike.
"There's work to be done now," de Blasio said, "because the crisis continues in West Africa. We're so thrilled that Dr. Spencer is well, but that is not a cause for complacency." According to Nov. 4 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13,268 people have contracted Ebola during the current outbreak in West Africa and 4,960 people have died from it. "Complacency, false security and above all fear are Ebola's greatest allies," said Sophie Delaunay, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders.
New Yorkers wishing to help closer to home should first and foremost get a flu shot, de Blasio reiterated and support rather than stigmatize organizations like Doctors Without Borders and the health care workers affiliated with them.
"There is no cause for anyone to be treated with anything but respect for serving people in need," he said.