[www.inewsguyana.com] – A New York doctor who recently returned from Ebola-hit Guinea in West Africa has tested positive for the disease.
Dr Craig Spencer, who treated Ebola patients while working for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), came down with a fever on Thursday, days after his return, officials say.
He is the first Ebola case diagnosed in New York, and the fourth in the US. Meanwhile, Mali has confirmed its first case of Ebola after a two-year-old girl tested positive for the virus.
More than 4,800 people have died of Ebola – mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – since March.
Dr Spencer, 33, left Guinea on 14 October, and returned to New York City on 17 October via Europe. On Tuesday he began to feel tired and developed a fever and diarrhoea on Thursday.
He immediately contacted medical services and was taken to the city’s Bellevue Hospital, where he is being kept in isolation.
President Barack Obama said his thoughts and prayers were with the patient. New York officials said Dr Spencer had travelled on the subway and gone out jogging before he started feeling unwell.
But at a news conference late on Thursday, they sought to ease fears of an outbreak in the densely populated city of 8.4 million people, saying officials had prepared for weeks for an Ebola case. They added that those who came into contact with Dr Spencer were not at risk.
“There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Ebola is an extremely hard disease to contract. New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are not at risk.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “We can’t say that this is an unexpected circumstance.”
Alexandra Sifferlin writing for TIME magazine asks if New York is ready for Ebola. Leading medical experts in the city tell her that they are and add they have learned from mistakes made in Dallas.
In the New York Daily News, a leading city doctor, Judith Aberg, insists Bellevue Hospital is up to the task: “They have been training for this event, as we have at all the major hospitals… the people taking care of him are highly trained and the most fit to be in that room with him.”
Abby Haglage in the Daily Beast says Dr Spencer’s case could affect Ebola patients worldwide – by deterring would-be volunteers from travelling to West Africa to help.
Julia Ioffe, senior editor at the New Republic,, questions why Dr Spencer felt the need to go bowling – especially when he decided to stay home from work. She adds that Amber Vinson, who also had Ebola, took two flights despite running a temperature.
Mr Obama telephoned both the mayor and the governor to discuss the deployment of health officials and to offer “any additional federal support necessary”, the White House said.
Ebola patients are only infectious if they have symptoms, and the disease is only transmittable through bodily fluids, experts say.
Mr Cuomo said officials had identified four people with whom Dr Spencer had contact during the period in which he was potentially infectious. His fiancee and two friends have been placed into quarantine, said Dr Mary Bassett, New York’s health commissioner. [BBC]