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New York’s Ebola patient Spencer set for release, virus-free

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — An emergency room doctor who was the first Ebola patient in the nation’s biggest city has recovered and is scheduled to be released from the hospital Tuesday, health officials said.

The city Department of Health said Monday in a statement that Dr. Craig Spencer, who was the only Ebola patient being treated in the United States, “has been declared free of the virus.”

Spencer tested positive for the virus Oct. 23, just days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. He has been treated in a specially designed isolation unit at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola treatment center. 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 initially were quarantined but were released and are being monitored along with hundreds of others.

Spencer, 33, is expected to issue a statement but not take questions when he’s released from the hospital.

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. Still, news of Spencer’s infection set many New Yorkers on edge, particularly after details emerged that he rode the subway, dined in a meatball restaurant and visited a bowling alley in the days before he developed a fever and tested positive.

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

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


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