Another health care personnel returning from West Africa has been diagnosed with Ebola. The woman was working in Sierra Leone, the West African country hardest hit by the infection, and is now being treated in isolation at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital.
The health authorities are now trying to track down all contacts the woman may have made, this includes people in the flights to Scotland passing through Heathrow.
Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary of the UK, said that the patient will be brought to London to a special unit for handling Ebola cases. This was where William Pooley, the British nurse, was treated and cured of Ebola.
“She will be flown from Glasgow and taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London “as soon as we possibly can,” Mr Hunt said.
An air ambulance is expected to take her there tonight.
The hospital has a specialized isolation unit which was used in treating William Pooley, the British nurse who was infected by the Ebola virus and ultimately recovered from it.
The health secretary added: “We are also reviewing our procedures and protocols for all the other NHS workers who are working at the moment in Sierra Leone.”
The Health Secretary assured the public that the government was doing “absolutely everything it needs to be” to protect UK from the deadly Ebola virus.
He continued, “”We are also reviewing our procedures and protocols for all the other NHS workers who are working at the moment in Sierra Leone.”
The patient was a health worker for NHS assigned in an Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone. This was revealed by the charity Save the Children.
The organisation’s humanitarian director, Michael von Bertele, said: “Save the Children is working closely with the UK government, Scottish government and Public Health England to look into the circumstances surrounding the case.”
At a news conference in Glasgow, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon emphasized that the danger to the general public contracting the virus was very low.
Although the woman said she only had contact with a single person, the First Minister added that all passengers who were on the flight are going to be traced for proper evaluation.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Apart from other passengers on the flights and obviously the hospital staff since this patient’s admittance to hospital, she, the patient is thought to have had contact with only one other person in Scotland since returning to Scotland last night and that person will also be contacted and given appropriate reassurance.”
Alisdair MacConachie, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “She’s being managed in an isolation facility by staff who are comfortable managing patients in such a situation. She herself is quite stable and is not showing any great clinical concern at the minute.”
Infectious disease measures have been activated at the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at Gartnavel according to NHS Scotland.
The risk of infection is remote, but public health experts are not taking any chances. A hot line was put up for those who were passengers of the BA 1478 Heathrow to Glasgow flight. The number is: 08000 858531
Symptoms of Ebola initially include sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, sore throat, and headache. Later on, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, both external and internal, will follow. Blood will manifest in eyes, nose, gums and feces.
The cause of death is usually due to loss of fluids or dehydration and multiple organ failure.
A British Airways spokesman said: “We are working closely with the health authorities in England and Scotland and will offer assistance with any information they require.
“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.”
Ms Sturgeon has presided a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee (SGoRR) and has also talked to Prime Minister David Cameron.
On the other hand, Mr. Hunt will also preside over a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee this coming Monday evening.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Our first thoughts at this time must be with the patient diagnosed with Ebola and their friends and family. I wish them a speedy recovery.
“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.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “It is important to be reassured that although a case has been identified, the overall the risk to the public continues to be low.
“We have robust, well-developed and well-tested NHS systems for managing unusual infectious diseases when they arise, supported by a wide range of experts. The UK system was prepared, and reacted as planned, when this case of Ebola was identified.”