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UK Ebola woman worked with charity

An NHS worker who has been diagnosed with Ebola after returning to Glasgow from Sierra Leone had been working in the country with Save the Children.

The woman is currently in a stable condition in hospital in Glasgow but will be transferred to specialist facilities in London as soon as possible.

She flew back to the UK via Casablanca and London Heathrow before arriving at Glasgow Airport at around 11.30pm yesterday on a British Airways flight.

She was admitted to hospital early this morning after feeling feverish and was placed into isolation in the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at the city's Gartnavel Hospital at 7.50am.

Health officials are tracing the 71 other people who were on the British Airways flight from London to Glasgow with the woman.

Michael von Bertele, Save the Children humanitarian director, said: "We can confirm that an NHS health worker working with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre at Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, has tested positive for Ebola. Our thoughts are with the individual, their family and colleagues at this difficult time. We wish them a speedy recovery.

"Save the Children is working closely with the UK Government, Scottish Government and Public Health England to look into the circumstances surrounding the case."

Apart from the other passengers on the flight and hospital staff the patient is thought to have had contact with only one other person in Scotland, who is being contacted.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the risk to the general public is "extremely low to the point of negligible".

According to UK and Scottish protocol for anyone diagnosed with Ebola, the patient will be transferred to the high-level isolation unit in the Royal Free Hospital, north London, as soon as possible.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Given the early stage of the diagnosis, the patient was displaying no symptoms of the kind that would lead to onward transmission and put other people at risk before she reported as being unwell.

"Passengers on both the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow and Heathrow to Glasgow are being traced and contacted. They will be given the appropriate advice and reassurance."

She added: "Scotland has been preparing for this possibility from the beginning of the outbreak in west Africa and I am confident that we are well prepared.

"We have the robust procedures in place to identify cases rapidly. Our health service also has the expertise and facilities to ensure that confirmed Ebola cases such as this are contained and isolated, effectively minimising any potential spread of the disease."

Earlier she chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee and has also spoken to Prime Minister David Cameron.

It is thought to be the first time that a case of Ebola has been diagnosed on UK soil.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is making contact with passengers who were on the flight to Glasgow.

Dr Alisdair MacConnachie, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said the patient is clinically stable and should have a good prognosis.

Health Protection England said the healthcare worker left Sierra Leone yesterday and was a passenger on flight AT596 from Freetown to Casablanca, flight AT0800 from Casablanca to London, and transferred at Heathrow to flight BA1478 for onward travel to Glasgow.

It said the risk of infection to other passengers on the flights is considered extremely low but, as a precaution, it is arranging for all passengers and crew on the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow to be provided with health information and will be contacting and following up those passengers who were sitting near the affected passenger on these flights.

British Airways said it is working closely with the health authorities in England and Scotland and will offer assistance with any information they require.

It said: ''Customers who flew from London Heathrow to Glasgow on BA1478 which departed at 2100 on Sunday December 28 and have concerns should contact the special number 08000 858531 set up by the Scottish Government.

''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.''

A spokesman for the Royal Free Hospital said it was not yet clear when the patient would be transferred to London.

When she arrives the patient will be treated in the high-level isolation unit (HLIU).

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

A specially designed tent is set up around the patient's bed so the infection can be contained while they are treated.

Downing Street said David Cameron phoned Ms Sturgeon regarding the case and made clear that the UK Government stood ready to assist ''in any way possible'', a No 10 spokesman said.

After chairing a meeting of the Whitehall Cobra contingencies committee in London, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there would be a review of the "procedures and protocols" adopted by NHS workers and other government staff working in Sierra Leone.

He said the Government was doing "absolutely everything it needs to" to keep the public safe and that the measures it had put in place were working well.

He said that the woman health worker would be transferred to the Royal Free Hospital under the supervision of Dr Mike Jacobs, one of the leading experts in the field.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "The news of a positive Ebola case in Glasgow is an obvious matter for concern, but the public should be assured all four health services across the UK are prepared and have worked together for this eventuality.

"The UK Government is providing all the necessary assistance to the Scottish Government to deal with this incident, including the highest level of expert care at the Royal Free in London.

"Our specialised healthcare facilities and expertise are pooled across the UK to provide the best possible outcomes for the patient and public at large.

"My thoughts are with the brave nurse who was selflessly supporting the efforts to tackle Ebola in Sierra Leone. I wish her a quick and full recovery."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said: "Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there has always been the possibility of a case appearing here.

"The important thing to remember is that the NHS in Scotland and across the UK is prepared for this and that robust and well-developed systems are in place for managing it.

"We all hope this will be an isolated case and everyone's thoughts right now will be with the patient and the medical team at Gartnavel."


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