British patient being treated for Ebola

Louis Leeson/AP Photo/Save the Children

Louis Leeson/AP Photo/Save the Children

A female health care worker who has just returned from Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola and is being treated in a Glasgow hospital, Scottish authorities said Monday.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called it the first case of Ebola ever diagnosed inside the United Kingdom.

The patient flew to Glasgow via Casablanca and London's Heathrow Airport, arriving late Sunday, the Scottish government said. The health care worker was admitted to a hospital on Monday morning after developing a fever.

Sturgeon said the risk to the public is “extremely low to the point of negligible” and that pre-planned steps would be taken to protect the public.

“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, adding that the patient is “stable” and would soon be transferred to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

She said the patient, who is not being identified, had traveled on an internal British Airways flight from London to Glasgow on Sunday night and that the other 71 passengers and staff on that flight will be contacted.

But she said the patient was not yet showing symptoms at the time and that 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 became ill Monday morning and contacted health officials. She was soon admitted to the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow.

The patient had been screened for symptoms before leaving at Sierra Leone and at London Heathrow Airport, Sturgeon said.

The first minister said the patient had only had contact with one other person in Scotland and that person's health will be monitored.

The only previous victim of the often-fatal disease in Britain was William Pooley, a nurse who contracted the disease while treating patients in Sierra Leone. He recovered after treatment in London and returned to West Africa.

Prime Minister David Cameron said all measures will be taken to protect the public. An emergency meeting of the government's security committee was to be held Monday night.

Since an Ebola outbreak began in December 2013 in the West African country of Guinea, there have been more than 20,000 cases and more than 7,800 deaths, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

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