British Ebola victim flown back for treatment

2014-08-24 21:27
A member of Doctors Without Borders putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry. (Cellou Binani, AFP)

A member of Doctors Without Borders putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry. (Cellou Binani, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - A British healthcare worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone - the first Briton to catch the deadly virus - was flown home for treatment on Sunday, as the World Health Organisation confirmed another foreign medic had caught the disease.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond authorised the repatriation of the male medical worker - whose identity has not been disclosed - after he was analysed by doctors from Britain and Sierra Leone.

The worst ever outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever has so far killed at least 1 427 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and neighbouring Guinea. Five deaths have been reported in Nigeria.

Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer John Watson said final approval for the evacuation was given on the ground in Sierra Leone by a team of physicians who had arrived on a specially equipped Royal Air Force cargo plane.

The Boeing C-17 left the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown bound for Britain at around 12:50.

"We understand that this patient, during the course of the work that he was carrying out, was exposed about a week ago and became unwell two or three days ago," Watson told Sky News.

"The patient is not currently seriously unwell," the UK Department of Health said in a statement.

Upon arrival at the RAF Northolt air base in Britain, he will be transported to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London, the department said.

The hospital has the only high-level isolation unit for treatment of infectious diseases in Britain and has a team of specially trained staff.

"Protective measures will be strictly maintained to minimise the risk of transmission to staff transporting the patient to the UK and healthcare workers treating the individual," Paul Cosford, director for health protection at state body Public Health England, said in a statement.

Two US doctors, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and were evacuated to the United States, left hospital last week after receiving treatment with an experimental drug, ZMapp. It was not clear what role the pharmaceutical played in their recovery.

Three African healthcare workers have also improved since receiving ZMapp in Liberia. Its US-based manufacturer, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, has said limited supplies of the drug have already been exhausted.

First WHO worker taken ill

The World Health Organisation said one of its healthcare workers had tested positive for Ebola for the first time in Sierra Leone. The WHO said it was working to ensure that the foreign worker, who it did not identify, was receiving the best possible care, including the option of medical evacuation.

A government source in Sierra Leone, who asked not to be identified, said the worker was a Senegalese expert working for the WHO in the eastern town of Kailahun.

The WHO has deployed nearly 400 people from its own staff and partner organisations since the outbreak was detected in March deep in the forest region of southeast Guinea.

In the past six months of the outbreak, more than 225 health workers have fallen ill and nearly 130 have lost their lives to the disease, the WHO said.

It is the first outbreak of the disease in West Africa and the worst since it was discovered in 1976 in the jungles of Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

The WHO is due to release next week details of a draft strategy to combat the disease in West Africa. The UN agency has faced criticism that it moved too slowly to contain the outbreak.

With the healthcare systems of Sierra Leone and Liberia already fragile following a decade of civil war in the 1990s, and still lacking staff, the WHO said a surge in foreign healthcare workers was essential.

Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola David Nabarro said on Friday the strategy would involve increasing the number of foreign and national health workers fighting the disease.

Nabarro visited Sierra Leone on Sunday, where he was due to see new laboratory and treatment centre in Freetown.

Read more on:    sierra leone  |  west africa  |  ebola

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.