Ebola virus: Northern Ireland woman being tested for disease after West Africa visit

The results could come back as early as this afternoon, officials said

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A woman being tested for Ebola in Northern Ireland could be told whether she has the disease as early as this afternoon.

The unidentified patient is being treated in isolation at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after reportedly travelling home from seeing friends in Sierra Leone.

She has already tested positive for malaria and the Public Health Agency (PHA) stressed that the Ebola screen was a “precautionary measure”.

A source told the Daily Mirror that she may have come into contact with air passengers in London after changing flights but the journey was taken before she developed a fever and other symptoms.

A spokesperson for the PHA said she had recently travelled to an area affected by the disease but would not confirm where.

Health workers remove the body a woman who died from the Ebola virus in the Aberdeen district of Freetown, Sierra Leone

He added: “The PHA is liaising with colleagues and has advised that there is no increased risk to the wider community.

“It is important to note that the likelihood of contracting Ebola is extremely low unless the person had come into contact with blood or body fluids of a symptomatic person. Therefore we would like to stress that the risk to the public is low.

“There is no change to the current situation in Northern Ireland in that the risk to the public here is very low.”

Ebola is deadly in approximately half of recorded cases and has so far killed almost 5,000 people in the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, although the World Health Organisation (WHO) cautioned that both the number of cases and deaths are underreported.

While infection control procedures appear to be slowing the spread of Ebola elsewhere, the disease is still raging out of control in Sierra Leone, which has seen more than 4,700 cases, including 1,200 in the last month alone.