London treatment for UK Ebola woman

Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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An NHS worker who has been diagnosed with Ebola after returning to Glasgow from Sierra Leone is expected to be moved to specialist facilities in London today.

The woman, who had been working in Sierra Leone with Save the Children, has been in isolation in hospital in Glasgow since yesterday morning and is currently in a stable condition.

She flew back to the UK via Casablanca and London Heathrow, arriving at Glasgow Airport at around 11.30pm on Sunday evening on a British Airways flight.

She was admitted to hospital early yesterday morning after feeling feverish and was placed into isolation in the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at the city’s Gartnavel Hospital at 7.50am.

Health officials are tracing the 71 other people who were on the British Airways flight from London to Glasgow with the woman.

It is thought to be the first time that a case of Ebola has been diagnosed on UK soil.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the risk to the general public is “extremely low to the point of negligible”.

Apart from the other passengers on the flight and hospital staff the patient is thought to have had contact with only one other person in Scotland, who is being contacted.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Given the early stage of the diagnosis, the patient was displaying no symptoms of the kind that would lead to onward transmission and put other people at risk before she reported as being unwell.

“Passengers on both the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow and Heathrow to Glasgow are being traced and contacted. They will be given the appropriate advice and reassurance.”

She added: “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.

“We have the robust procedures in place to identify cases rapidly. Our health service also has the expertise and facilities to ensure that confirmed Ebola cases such as this are contained and isolated, effectively minimising any potential spread of the disease.”

The woman had been working with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre at Kerry Town, Sierra Leone,

Michael von Bertele, Save the Children humanitarian director, said: “Our thoughts are with the individual, their family and colleagues at this difficult time. We wish them a speedy recovery.

“Save the Children is working closely with the UK Government, Scottish Government and Public Health England to look into the circumstances surrounding the case.”

According to UK and Scottish protocol for anyone diagnosed with Ebola, the patient will be transferred to the high-level isolation unit in the Royal Free Hospital, north London, as soon as possible.

Health Protection Scotland is making contact with passengers who were on the flight to Glasgow.

Health Protection England said the healthcare worker left Sierra Leone on Sunday and was a passenger on flight AT596 from Freetown to Casablanca, flight AT0800 from Casablanca to London, and transferred at Heathrow to flight BA1478 for onward travel to Glasgow.

It said the risk of infection to other passengers on the flights is considered extremely low but, as a precaution, it is arranging for all passengers and crew on the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow to be provided with health information and will be contacting and following up those passengers who were sitting near the affected passenger on these flights.

The Scottish Government has set up a telephone helpline for anyone on the BA1478 flight which left Heathrow at 9pm on Sunday bound for Glasgow. The number is 08000 858531.

When she arrives at the Royal Free Hospital the patient will be treated in the high-level isolation unit.

The unit is run by a dedicated team of doctors and laboratory staff and access is restricted to specially trained medical staff.

A specially designed tent is set up around the patient’s bed so the infection can be contained while they are treated.

Yesterday Ms Sturgeon chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee and also spoke to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Downing Street said David Cameron phoned Ms Sturgeon regarding the case and made clear that the UK Government stood ready to assist ”in any way possible”, a No 10 spokesman said.

After chairing a meeting of the Whitehall Cobra contingencies committee in London, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there would be a review of the “procedures and protocols” adopted by NHS workers and other government staff working in Sierra Leone.

He said the Government was doing “absolutely everything it needs to” to keep the public safe and that the measures it had put in place were working well.

Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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