NEW YORK (AFP) – The last known Ebola patient in the United States, a New York doctor who contracted the virus while treating infected people in West Africa, was released from the hospital on Tuesday after being declared cured.
President Barack Obama led the tributes as Craig Spencer was discharged from Bellevue Hospital in New York where he had been treated after being diagnosed with the disease.
The White House said Obama had called Spencer from Beijing to salute the doctor for “his selflessness and compassion in fighting this disease on the front lines in West Africa”.
Spencer had earlier appeared with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to confirm his recovery.
“New York City’s first and only Ebola case is successfully treated. Dr Spencer is Ebola-free and New York City is Ebola-free,” de Blasio proclaimed to cheers and applause.
Spencer, 33, had been admitted to the hospital three weeks earlier after returning to the United States from Guinea, which along with Sierra Leone and Liberia is one of three hard-hit West African countries where the often fatal disease is raging.
He returned to the United States on October 17, flying into John F Kennedy International Airport, after returning from several weeks volunteering with the Doctors Without Borders group.
Spencer’s case stirred fears because he tra-versed New York in the days following his return, using the subway and a taxi, dining in a popular restaurant and going bowling with friends, before falling ill and isolating himself.
He said he was grateful for the high-quality medical care he received during his illness, and urged that more be done for those suffering from Ebola in Africa.
“Today, I am healthy and no longer infectious. My early detection reporting and now recovery from Ebola, speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols that are in place for health staff retur-ning from West Africa,” he said.