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Second volunteer transferred to UK

A second volunteer is being transferred to the UK for observation after potential contact with the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone.

Authorities said the patients have not been diagnosed with Ebola and are being moved as a "highly precautionary step".

Public Health England (PHE) said the risk of the two volunteers, including an Australian nurse, developing the virus is low and they are being transferred to the UK for assessment and monitoring for symptoms for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period of the disease, which is s tandard procedure for returning workers.

A spokesman said the two patients have not been diagnosed with Ebola and do not currently have any symptoms.

Dr Jenny Harries, regional director for PHE, said: "The risk to the public posed by these and indeed any of the returning workers is extremely low. We are confident that all appropriate public health actions have been taken, and will continue to be taken, to support these individuals and to protect the public's health.

"It's important to remember, in choosing to volunteer, that these individuals have taken a courageous step not only to help those affected in West Africa, but also prevent the spread of Ebola any wider."

Meanwhile a patient admitted to hospital in Scotland yesterday after returning from Ebola-hit west Africa has tested negative for the killer virus.

NHS Lothian said the patient, reported to be a woman, was screened for infection at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital after reporting a raised temperature, but tested negative.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said the Australian nurse will undergo observation in the United Kingdom following a "low risk clinical incident" at the Australian-managed Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Sierra Leone.

In a statement it said: "The nurse was transferred to the United Kingdom consistent with the guarantees secured by the Australian government as a condition to establishing the treatment centre.

"The individual, who for privacy reasons has not been named, has not been diagnosed with Ebola, and her transferral to the UK for a 21-day observation period is a precautionary step.

"The Australian-funded ETC has strict infection prevention protocols in place, and the safety of staff and patients is paramount."

The ETC has a capacity of 38 beds and has so far seen 18 patients recover from the disease.

Public Health England (PHE) said the risk to the public remains low.

A spokesman said: "PHE can confirm an individual has been transferred to the UK who has had potential contact with the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone.

"This is a highly precautionary step. This individual has not been diagnosed with Ebola, does not have any symptoms of Ebola and their risk of developing the virus remains low.

"They will be initially assessed in hospital and subsequently monitored for any symptoms for the remainder of their 21-day incubation period, in line with standard procedures for returning travellers."

The suspected Ebola case in Edinburgh came about 24 hours after Northampton General Hospital said it was treating a possible case.

The hospital has since confirmed that the female patient, who has a history of travel to west Africa, tested negative.

Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey is still being treated for Ebola at London's Royal Free Hospital.

The volunteer from Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, is in a stable condition after being taken off the critical list this week.

She remains in an isolation unit after contracting the disease while helping patients in Sierra Leone with Save the Children.

The charity is investigating how Ms Cafferkey came to be infected.

Following the latest incident the Scottish Government said: "Scotland has a robust health protection surveillance system which monitors global disease outbreaks and ensures that we are fully prepared to respond to such situations."

A PHE spokesman said: ''It is important to remember that the infection can only be transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids - such as blood, vomit or faeces - of an infected person.

''We have advised all front-line medical practitioners and NHS call handlers to be alert to signs and symptoms of Ebola in those returning from affected areas and following such advice we would expect to see an increase in testing.''

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