The mayor of New York City today tried to assure a city alarmed over the presence of an Ebola patient that the patient "poses no threat to others."
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"We are fully prepared to handle Ebola," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference today a day after it was announced that Dr. Craig Spencer was admitted to Bellevue Hospital with a diagnosis of the lethal virus.
De Blasio said the city's emergency system has "planned for the crisis... That's why we've been ahead of the game."
Spencer, 33, was admitted to Bellevue Hospital Thursday, seven days after returning from Guinea where he had been treating Ebola patients. Spencer is in stable condition, according to the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Mary Bassett.
We are working very closely with our state and federal partners to protect the health of all New Yorkers. pic.twitter.com/Lg8H5fXCtE— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) October 24, 2014
The doctor's fiancee Morgan Dixon and two friends have been quarantined so they can be monitored. An Uber taxi driver was also in contact with Spencer, but was not believed to be at risk.
De Blasio said that there were three public establishments that Spencer visited in the day before he was symptomatic. Two of the establishments -- Blue Bottle Coffee, a stand on the High Line park, and a Brooklyn bowling alley called The Gutter -- have been cleared to reopen. A Greenwich Village restaurant called The Meatball Shop was in the middle of their inspection during the press conference. If the restaurant is cleared, it plans to reopen for dinner tonight.
Officials stressed that the tests are being done out of an abundance of caution because Spencer did not display symptoms when he visited those locations and the first time he recorded his elevated 100.3 degree fever was between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Thursday.
A clean-up crew hired by the city's Health Department was inside Spencer's Manhattan apartment today to ensure it was disinfected.
"Our contractor will clean and disinfect out of an abundance of caution. They will throw away the bed linens, towels, toiletries, food in the fridge, throw away garbage," a Health Department spokesman said. "They will wipe down hard frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant. And once complete, we will inspect and certify the apartment is Okay to re-enter."
The health official said the department did not believe there were any bodily fluids, which transmit the virus, in the apartment.
"We do not believe there are any body fluids in the apartment because the patient did not report any vomiting it diarrhea," the spokesman said.
Spencer's decision to travel to west Africa to work for Doctors Without Borders was described as a selfless act by the mayor.
"These individuals who are going there to serve are going to be the ones to end this crisis," de Blasio said. "We can't have the illusion that is 'we turn away from it, then someday it will end.'"
De Blasio paid tribute to Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who had contracted Ebola while treating a patient who died of the virus. Pham was released today and spoke outside the National Institutes of Health in Maryland just minutes before the New York City press conference started. De Blasio said that her recovery shows that "the capacity of our medical community to address this issue is extraordinary."
Pham met with President Obama in the White House on her way back home to Dallas today.