Dr. Craig Spencer, previously the only Ebola patient in the United States, was released from Bellevue Hospital on Tuesday morning.
New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Spencer, 33, has been cured of the virus, and is no longer a public health risk.
Health officials held a press conference at the hospital on Tuesday morning to discuss Spencer’s release. The physician, who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders for five weeks before he returned to New York, made a brief statement, and was introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a “true American hero and example to us all.”
“Today I am healthy and no longer infectious,” said Spencer, adding his early detection and reporting, along with “exceptional treatment,” “speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols.”
Spencer was transported to the hospital on Oct. 23, several days after he returned from West Africa.
“While my case has garnered international attention, it is important to remember that my infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported to date in West Africa … where families are being torn apart and communities destroyed,” Spencer said. He also stressed the importance of supporting health workers who helping the people of West Africa.
Spencer said many of his former patients called his cell phone to wish him well while he was in the hospital.
The doctor said he expected “complete privacy” from the media, and said he will not be answering questions or giving interviews moving forward. He asked the press to instead focus their efforts on covering Ebola in West Africa.
As of Spencer’s release, there are no patients being treated for Ebola in the United States. As of Nov. 4, 4,950 people had died in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from the virus. An additional 10 deaths came from cases in Nigeria, Mali and the United States.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said she was “proud” to see Spencer released, and for the quality of care he received.
“Our months of planning and preparation have indeed paid off. Although we will remain vigilant, today is another reminder of how truly fortunate we all are to reside in a city with the best public hospital system and health department anywhere,” Bassett said.
Later Tuesday, First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which will send money to fight Ebola in West Africa and the U.S. through Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and the American Red Cross.