New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn on Friday to discuss the Ebola patient diagnosed at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday. De Blasio stressed there is “no cause for alarm” and people in the city do not need to change their “daily routine.”
“We are fully prepared to handle Ebola,” de Blasio said.
The patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea, one of the three countries in West Africa that has seen an epidemic of the disease. He returned to New York on Oct. 17. Spencer later said he began feeling fatigue on Tuesday. On Thursday, he called an ambulance after checking his temperature and finding a fever of 100.3 degrees and was brought to Bellevue, one of the city’s hospitals that has been specially designated for dealing with cases of the virus.
Ebola victims are only contagious to others when they begin experiencing symptoms. De Blasio stressed the city’s “disease detectives” were working to “retrace” Spencer’s steps and evaluate locations he visited after he began feeling ill. They also said his fiancee was under quarantine. According to officials, Spencer visited three locations in Manhattan on Tuesday: the Highline Park, Blue Bottle coffee shop, which is in the park, and the Meatball Shop restaurant on Greenwich Ave. On Wednesday, he went to The Gutter, a bowling alley in Brooklyn. He took the subway to get there and returned home in an Uber cab. De Blasio said all the locations had been “assessed” and cleared apart from the Meatball Shop, which is still be examined.
Though Spencer traveled within the city, de Blasio stressed it would be difficult for him to have put others in danger. De Blasio noted it is only “direct” contact with bodily fluids with an infected and contagious person that can spread Ebola.
“I want to emphasise again, casual contact cannot lead to acquiring this disease,” de Blasio said.
Officials at the press conference also pointed out Spencer was monitoring his temperature twice a day and sought treatment when he found he had a “low grade fever.” They said there was “no temperature elevation” prior to Thursday morning when Spencer found himself with a 100.3 degree fever.
“The history here is that people have only transmitted the disease when they have a state of fever,” de Blasio said.
In spite of this, officials said they were attempted to retrace all of Spencer’s steps since 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the day he began feeling fatigued, out of an “abundance of caution.”
Dr. Ramanathan Raju, the chief excutive of the New York City Health & Hospitals Coporation, which operates Bellevue, said Spencer is in “stable” condition.
“He is talking on the cell phone to a lot of folks,” Dr. Raju said. “And I think we cannot tell more than that because of patient confidentiality, but I want to tell you that he’s stable.”
De Blasio repeatedly emphasised Ebola can only be spread through direct contact and said misconceptions about transmission of the disease were reminiscent of the early days of the AIDS crisis when inaccurate rumours about that virus ran rampant.
This post was last updated at 1:27 p.m.
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