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Ebola nurse stable as hunt begins for source of infection

By Staff Reporter

A British nurse fighting for her life after contracting Ebola remains in a critical condition but she has "stabilised", the Health Secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt gave an update on Pauline Cafferkey's condition as charity Save the Children launched an investigation into how she was infected - but conceded it may never establish the exact circumstances.

Mr Hunt told the Commons he had spoken to the doctor leading Pauline Cafferkey's care at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

He said: "As has been reported, Pauline's condition has deteriorated to a critical state although she stabilised yesterday and continues to receive the best possible care.

"She said in Sierra Leone that she hoped her loved ones would be proud of her. Well, she should know today the whole country is proud of her for her bravery and dedication to the service of others. She stands, quite simply, for the very best of NHS values."

Mrs Cafferkey, a Scottish public health nurse, had volunteered with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, before returning to the UK, and the charity said yesterday that it was urgently reviewing its protocols.

Charity spokesman Rob MacGillivray said they had launched an "extraordinary review" to ensure that they "leave no stone unturned to, as far as possible, identify the source of this infection".

In a statement released later, Save the Children said its "serious event review" is investigating how Mrs Cafferkey contracted the disease by reviewing training, safety protocols, how protective equipment is used and "working practices".

The charity stressed that it may not be possible to be "100% sure" how the infection happened.

It said in a statement: "The early findings of the review will be made available by Save the Children as soon as possible.As with other Ebola infections in health facilities, it may never be possible to be 100% sure how the patient was infected.

"The work of these brave health workers is never risk-free, but we are committed to doing everything possible to learn what happened and, if necessary, to make changes to our protocols and practice.

"Staff safety is our number one priority and our thoughts are with Pauline and her family at this very difficult time."

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