Ebola outbreak: Briton with deadly virus flies in to UK for treatment in London

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the Ebola virus has claimed the lives of some 1,427 people

A British national living in Sierra Leone who has tested positive for Ebola has been transferred to the UK on an RAF plane.

The unnamed man tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus in the first confirmed case for a UK citizen, the Department of Health has said.

Today a spokesman for Sierra Leone's health ministry said the patient was being evacuated to the UK for treatment.

He was transferred to Britain’s only high-security infectious-disease unit, at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

A dedicated team of specially trained doctors, nurses and laboratory staff work at the restricted site, which contains equipment designed to contain the infection. The patient’s bed will be surrounded by a tent with its own controlled ventilation system helping to ensure that he gets the clinical care he needs, while also containing the infection.

All the air leaving the unit is cleaned to minimise risk, a spokesman for the Royal Free Hospital said.

Health experts were keen to stress that there remained a "very low" risk of the disease spreading to the UK.

READ MORE: Ebola fears are potentially more damaging than the disease itself

Earlier, Professor Tom Solomon, director of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, said the "strains" on the healthcare system in Sierra Leone may force a decision to be taken on bringing the patient to the UK.

"We do have facilities in the UK for caring for people with haemorrhagic fevers," he said. "There is a high-level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London which is very well set up for things like this.

"The medical services in Sierra Leone are very strained at the minute so it may well be the case that this person is brought to the UK for treatment."

Prof Solomon said the chances of the infection spreading are minimal, saying the patient would be transported "in what is effectively a bubble".

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the Ebola virus has claimed the lives of some 1,427 people since the disease was identified in Guinea in March and spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

The current outbreak is the worst in history with around 2,615 people being infected with the disease.

Despite the continued spread of the disease health experts are keen to stress the overall risk to those in the UK "continues to be very low".

Responding to the news that the first Briton with the disease was being treated, Professor John Watson, deputy chief medical officer, said yesterday: "Medical experts are currently assessing the situation in Sierra Leone to ensure that appropriate care is provided.

"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."

Further details on the sex, age and health of the patient were not immediately revealed.

Read more Ebola crisis: Irish officials confirm Dessie Quinn did not have Ebola
Ebola outbreak: Number of deaths are massively underestimated, warns WHO
Along came a virus and hauled three nations out of recovery

It was confirmed yesterday that an Irish engineer who died at home after returning from working in Sierra Leone had not contracted Ebola.

Dessie Quinn, 43, was being treated for malaria after returning two weeks ago from the west African country and was found dead in bed in Co Donegal by a friend in the early hours of Thursday.

The Health Service Executive said test samples had proved negative for Ebola.

In response to the outbreak Ivory Coast has imposed a ban on flights to Sierra Leone as well as Liberia and Guinea.

In addition Sierra Leone has passed a new law imposing possible jail time for anyone caught hiding an Ebola patient — a common practice that the World Health Organization believes has contributed to a major underestimation of the current outbreak.

Ebola is one of the world's deadliest diseases, with up to 90% of cases resulting in death.

The virus has no cure and rigorous quarantine measures are used to stop its spread, as well as high standards of hygiene for anyone who might come into contact with sufferers.

Symptoms of Ebola appear as a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

According to the WHO, this is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and, in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

The effects of the disease normally appear between two and 21 days after infection.

It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through person-to-person transmission. Outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.

The WHO says the disease can be passed between people by direct contact - through broken skin or mucous membranes - with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure / Development Support

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Partnership Relationship Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partnership Relationship Mana...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore