New York City's first Ebola patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, took a turn for the worse Saturday, with the onset of gastrointestinal symptoms. But he also remained awake, and able to conduct a short phone interview with The New York Times.
City spokeswoman Ana Marengo said Spencer, who Thursday entered Bellevue Hospital Center with a fever, is now “entering the next and more serious phase of his illness, as anticipated with the appearance of gastrointestinal symptoms,” the Times reported.
"People tend to get worse before they get better," said Dr. Mary Bassett, the city's commissioner for health and mental hygiene, according to WNBC, New York. "So he remains in stable condition but we are aware that this is the natural course of this disease."
Over the phone, Spencer "spoke of his sickness in a neutral tone that seemed stripped of illusions," the New York Times reported. Spencer also displayed a "touch of wry humor," apparently, indicating returning the hundreds of phone calls and emails he has received from reporters is not a top priority right now.
“When you have Ebola, not the best way to spend your time,” Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders member who had previously treated Ebola patients in Guinea, told the paper.
Spencer's fiancée, Morgan Dixon, was released from Bellevue Saturday, and returned to the couple's apartment in upper Manhattan's Hamilton Heights neighborhood. She will remain there under quarantine.
Just a day earlier, Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who became the first person infected with Ebola inside the U.S., was declared cured of the disease. Pham stopped by the White House Friday to give a President Obama a big hug.
So far the World Health Organization has counted 10,114 "confirmed, probable and suspected" cases of Ebola in eight countries, along with 4,922 deaths -- though the WHO has said the actual death toll could be three times as high.