British Ebola patient in UK hospital

Hospital arrival

A British military healthcare worker infected with Ebola has been admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in London.

She was flown back to the UK by the RAF after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone.

Two of her colleagues were also onboard the flight in case the infection has been passed on through close contact.

A further two colleagues have been assessed in Sierra Leone and will be flown to Newcastle, UK, on Friday. None has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Meanwhile the death-toll from the outbreak has passed 10,000.


Between 600 and 700 UK defence personnel are based in Sierra Leone as part of efforts to tackle the largest ever outbreak of Ebola.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said there were stringent procedures in place, but there was “always a level of risk”.

Mark Francois, the minister for the Armed Forces, praised the “courage and dedication” of those working in Sierra Leone.

He added: “The wellbeing of our service personnel remains our overriding priority.

“This includes the individual directly affected and their four colleagues, for whom precautionary measures are now being taken.

“We are very proud of what our servicemen and women are doing and our thoughts are with their five colleagues and their families at this time.”

‘Close contact’

Plane and ambulance at RAF NortholtThe C-17 plane landed just before 14:00 GMT at RAF Northolt

Contact tracing identified the four cases of “recent close contact” with the diagnosed woman, Public Health England said.

The three flown to the UK have been taken to Royal Free Hospital in London. The infected patient will stay on the hospital’s special isolation unit. The suspected pair will be monitored for signs of the infection.

It is where two British nurses infected with Ebola – William Pooley and Pauline Cafferkey – were successfully treated.

Two other healthcare workers will arrive back in the UK in Friday. They will be taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where they will be assessed.

Prof Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said: “The UK has robust, well-developed and well-tested systems for managing Ebola virus disease.

“All appropriate infection control procedures have, and will continue to be, strictly followed to minimise any risk of transmission.”

Dr Jenny Harries, from Public Health England, added: “There is no risk to the general public’s health and the overall risk to the UK continues to be very low.”

There have been more than 24,000 cases of Ebola since the outbreak started more than a year ago. More than 10,000 people have died.

Dr Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading, said flying the patient back to the UK offered the best chance of recovery.

“The Royal Free Hospital has a 100% record in treating Ebola cases so far, let’s hope that doesn’t change.

“While the new batch of ZMapp is not yet available, she could be treated with favipiravir, which has shown some early promising results in West African Ebola clinics.

“She may also be given antibody-rich serum from Ebola survivors to knock down the amount of virus in her blood while her immune system is learning to fight Ebola.”

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BBC News – Health

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