Ebola test on soldier returning to Northern Ireland comes back negative
A soldier returning to Northern Ireland from Sierra Leone who was tested for Ebola has left hospital after the result came back negative.
A spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust confirmed that the soldier had been discharged from the Royal Victoria Hospital yesterday morning.
Around 40 troops from the The Royal Scots Borderers 1st Battalion based at Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down, were deployed to the West African country in October to support the international Ebola relief effort.
Speaking at the time, Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Matt Munro said: "There are some peculiar threats to this operation clearly relating to the Ebola virus and of course there is a risk of soldiers from this battalion contracting the virus but it is a very low risk because there are all sorts of very practical and sensible measures that my people can employ to ensure that the risk is kept to an absolute minimum.
"And it is worth saying also that, for the most part, my soldiers have been queuing up to deploy."
In November, another patient in Belfast tested negative for the virus at the RVH.
Almost 8,000 people have died from the virus and more than 20,000 cases have been reported since the start of the outbreak in December 2013.
Meanwhile, Pauline Cafferkey, the British nurse who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, is "as well as we can hope for", her care team has said.
The 39-year-old is in an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where she is being treated with an experimental drug and blood from survivors of the disease.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said there had been no significant change in her condition.
On Wednesday she was said to be sitting up in bed talking and reading.
Dr Michael Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the hospital, said: "We are giving her the very best care possible. However, the next few days will be crucial. The disease has a variable course and we will know much more in a week's time."
The World Health Organisation reported last night that there have been 20,206 reported cases of Ebola since the start of the West African outbreak in December 2013, with 7,905 reported deaths. There are signs the increase in incidence has slowed in Sierra Leone. However, the west of the country is still experiencing the most intense transmission of all affected countries.