Scottish authorities have confirmed that a health care worker who just got back from Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola. The woman worker who flew to Glasgow via Casablanca and London’s Heathrow Airport from the West African country on Sunday night is the first case of Ebola ever inside the United Kingdom. She is now being treated at the Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the risk to the public is ‘‘extremely low’’ and that pre-planned steps would be taken to protect the public. ‘‘We have been preparing for this and have robust procedures in place,’’ she said, adding that the patient would be transferred to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
All passengers who traveled with the patient, whose identity has not been revealed, will also be contacted and checked for any possible symptoms of the disease, she said. The patient, she added, had not started showing any symptoms at the time. And people in that stage are much less contagious than they are after they exhibit symptoms, which include a high fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. The patient had been screened for symptoms before leaving at Sierra Leone and at London Heathrow Airport, 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,” said Ms Sturgeon.
“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,” she said.
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the woman would be taken to a specialist unit to the Royal Free Hospital in North London “as soon as we possibly can.” The hospital has a special isolation unit and had earlier treated William Pooley, the British nurse who had also contacted the disease while working in Africa.
Ever since the disease broke out in the African continent last year, more than 7,500 lives have been lost to it. Most of the deaths have occurred in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.