Eight New York hospitals to handle Ebola cases, governor says

Governor Andrew Cuomo (left) speaks at a meeting with city representatives on New York's planned response to an Ebola case on Oct 16, 2014 in New York City. While there have been no cases of Ebola in New York as yet, the governor has designated eight
Governor Andrew Cuomo (left) speaks at a meeting with city representatives on New York's planned response to an Ebola case on Oct 16, 2014 in New York City. While there have been no cases of Ebola in New York as yet, the governor has designated eight hospitals that would handle suspected cases of the epidemic. -- PHOTO: AFP 

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Hospitals in New York state are running drills to prepare for patients reporting to emergency rooms with Ebola-like symptoms, and eight of them have been identified as primary centres for handling any cases that may turn up, the governor said on Thursday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said authorities were erring on the side on caution in their preparations, and that the public's "anxiety is higher than the probability" of an Ebola outbreak in New York.

Even so, the governor said during a news conference, he would not be surprised if a case cropped up in New York, given the high number of people who visit or travel through the state.

All hospitals in New York are being trained to recognise potential Ebola cases in their emergency rooms and to respond appropriately, said Howard Zucker, New York state's acting health commissioner, at the same news conference.

Cuomo also said New York City was running unannounced drills to train for any suspected Ebola cases that may turn up in its subway system.

He thanked the city's transit workers for facing the added risks they would face with a potential Ebola case.

"This is not in their job description. It's not what you sign up for when you're a transit worker," Cuomo said.

Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died on Oct 8 in Dallas.

Two nurses who cared for him at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have since been diagnosed with the disease.

The Dallas hospital has come under fire for failing to diagnose Duncan promptly and failing to protect the nurses.