A patient was quarantined during an Ebola scare at a British hospital today, hours after a female detainee who became ill at an immigration removal centre was also tested for the virus.
The man, who had travelled from Lebanon, walked into the Accident and Emergency department at Weston General Hospital at around 9am Nurses became concerned that the symptoms he was displaying were related to the disease and he was isolated on the ward.
Tests carried out on the patient later confirmed he was not infected with Ebola. Patients were kept waiting for assessments at the hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, while the hour-long incident was resolved.
A hospital spokeswoman said: "A patient came in from abroad and because of some of the symptoms they were displaying, the accident and emergency department were naturally very cautious. They followed all the correct procedures and the proper triaging. The patient was found not to have Ebola.
"After around an hour it was back to business as normal once the department had established there was no cause for concern."
The spokeswoman confirmed the man was quarantined according to procedure. "People waiting to be seen at accident and emergency would have been kept waiting longer than normal," she added.
The hospital's A&E ward was not closed during the incident, the spokeswoman confirmed. Isolating Ebola patients is critical to slowing the spread of the disease, as sick people can transmit it through their bodily fluids such as blood, sweat or urine.
There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for the disease, which has killed at least half of its victims this year. A relative of a patient who was in the A&E department at the time told the Bristol Post: "From what I could see and hear, the minor injuries part of A&E was closed to new admissions during this time and people were not allowed to leave.
"I thought 'Oh My God' when I heard the doctors and nurses talking about Ebola, but I hadn't had any close contact with the patient they were examining.
"Once the hospital thought there could have been a risk, they reacted very quickly and I think it was the correct procedure."
Elsewhere a female detainee who became ill at an immigration removal centre has tested negative for the Ebola virus.
The woman, understood to have arrived from Sierra Leone, was being held at Dungavel Detention Centre in South Lanarkshire. She fell ill and was taken to hospital to undergo tests.
The Home Office had suspended the detention or release of detainees from Dungavel while the investigation was carried out. Staff and visitors were still allowed in and out of the centre.
NHS Lanarkshire said the tests were a precautionary measure and in a statement yesterday added that it was "highly unlikely" that the patient would have Ebola.
The latest negative test comes after a Sierra Leone athlete competing at the Commonwealth Games was tested and found to be clear of Ebola in Glasgow last month.
So far more than 1,000 people have died and almost 2,000 suspected, probable or confirmed cases have been recorded in west Africa since the outbreak was first detected. Health leaders have said it could take six months to get the spread of the disease under control.