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Passengers' Ebola fears eased after first case in Britain is confirmed

By Nigel Morris

The first case of Ebola to be diagnosed on British soil was announced last night after a health worker in Glasgow was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The patient is a Save the Children nurse who had just returned from Sierra Leone after a spell treating victims of the potentially fatal disease. NHS Scotland said she had been isolated and was receiving specialist treatment. She was said to be clinically stable.

The woman, who had not been named last night, returned to Scotland on Sunday night via Casablanca and Heathrow, arriving into Glasgow Airport on a British Airways flight. She was screened both in Sierra Leone and Heathrow, but at that stage was not displaying any symptoms.

Public health officials were last night attempting to track down fellow passengers.

She is believed to have been in contact with only one other person after arriving in Glasgow.

The nurse was an NHS volunteer at an Ebola Treatment Centre run by Save the Children at Kerry Town in Sierra Leone, the charity confirmed last night. She is the second Briton to be diagnosed with the virus after the nurse Will Pooley fell sick in Sierra Leone and was flown back to the UK.

The woman sought medical help hours after her return to Britain when she began to feel ill early yesterday.

She was immediately placed in isolation in a specialist unit for infectious diseases at Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow.

The Scottish Government, which held an emergency session of its resilience committee yesterday, said the risk to other people was considered extremely low. But the incident will renew questions over the adequacy of screening for Ebola at British airports.

The nurse is expected to be transferred in the next few days to the Royal Free Hospital, north London, which successfully treated Mr Pooley.

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

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, said: “Scotland has been preparing for this possibility... and I am confident we are well prepared.”

A British Airways spokesman said: “The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and the risk to people on board that individual flight is extremely low.’’

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