Ebola returns to Europe with first case diagnosed in Britain

29th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

A healthcare worker recently returned from Sierra Leone was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday by doctors in Scotland's largest city.

"A confirmed case of Ebola has been diagnosed in Glasgow," the Scottish government said.

The case is the first diagnosis of the deadly virus in Britain during the current outbreak.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the patient was a female health worker, and was currently in a stable condition in hospital.

The patient returned to Scotland late Sunday via Casablanca and London Heathrow, arriving at Glasgow Airport around 11:30 pm local time (2330 GMT).

She was admitted to Gartnavel Hospital campus Monday after feeling unwell and placed in isolation at 7:50 am.

"All possible contacts with the patient are now being investigated and anyone deemed to be at risk will be contacted and closely monitored," said the government.

"However, having been diagnosed in the very early stages of the illness, the risk to others is considered extremely low."

The patient is being treated in the hospital's Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases but a transfer is being arranged to move her to the high level isolation unit in London's Royal Free hospital "as soon as possible", according to protocol laid down by the government in London.

The Scottish government is currently contacting passengers on the Glasgow-bound flight, but stressed there was "negligeable risk" as the patient "displayed no symptoms" of the type that could cause transmission.

"Our first thoughts at this time must be with the patient diagnosed with Ebola and their friends and family. I wish them a speedy recovery," said Sturgeon at a press conference.

"Scotland has been preparing for this possibility from the beginning of the outbreak in west Africa and I am confident that we are well prepared."

- Emergency committee -

Sturgeon confirmed that she had earlier chaired a meeting of the Scottish government's "resilience committee" and that she was working closely with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was also to chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee late Monday.

Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom following September's referendum, but has autonomy over its health service.

However, it has agreed to send any Ebola patients to the highly-specialised London unit.

Will Pooley, a British nurse, was treated there using the experimental ZMapp drug earlier this year after being diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone.

He recovered and has since returned to the country to help fight the disease.

The last Ebola patient in Europe was a Nigerian UN peacekeeper who was cured after being brought to the Netherlands for treatment.

He was flown to there at the request of the World Health Organization in a specially equipped plane and treated at the university hospital in the central city of Utrecht.

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in west Africa has risen to 7,842 out of 20,081 cases recorded, the World Health Organization said Monday.

© 2014 AFP

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