A female healthcare worker who has been diagnosed with Ebola after returning from Sierra Leone is in a stable condition in hospital in Glasgow. The patient flew back to the UK via Casablanca and London Heathrow before arriving at Glasgow Airport at around 11.30pm yesterday on a British Airways flight.
Save the Children has confirmed that the patient had been working with the charity at the Ebola Treatment Centre at Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, prior to her return to the UK.
She was admitted to hospital early this morning after feeling feverish and was placed into isolation in the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at the city's Gartnavel Hospital at 7.50am. Health officials are tracing the 71 other people who were on the British Airways flight from London to Glasgow with the woman.
The patient is thought to have had contact with only one other person in Scotland apart from the other passengers on the flight and hospital staff. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the risk to the general public is "extremely low to the point of negligible".
According to UK and Scottish protocol for anyone diagnosed with Ebola, the patient will be transferred to the high-level isolation unit in the Royal Free Hospital, north London, as soon as possible. This is where the facilities, staff and systems are in place to ensure the best quality and safest care.
Ms 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. 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.
"We have the robust procedures in place to identify cases rapidly. Our health service also has the expertise and facilities to ensure that confirmed Ebola cases such as this are contained and isolated, effectively minimising any potential spread of the disease. Scotland's NHS has proved it is well able to cope with infectious diseases in the past, such as swine flu, and I am confident we will be able to respond effectively again."
Speaking at a press conference in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said: "Given the early stage of the diagnosis, the patient was displaying no symptoms that could lead to onward transmission before she reported as being unwell. Passengers on both the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow and Heathrow to Glasgow are being traced and contacted. They will be given the appropriate advice and reassurance."
It is thought to be the first time that a case of Ebola has been diagnosed on UK soil. Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is making contact with passengers who were on the flight to Glasgow.
Dr Syed Ahmed, of HPS, said: "The healthcare worker did not have any symptoms. The reason we are trying to contact passengers is to make sure that they get the right information. We want to reassure them personally by making contact with them and also to let them know what the symptoms are and if they do have any symptoms, they need to contact the NHS."
Dr Alisdair MacConnachie, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said the patient is clinically stable and should have a good prognosis. Health Protection England said the healthcare worker left Sierra Leone yesterday and was a passenger on flight AT596 from Freetown to Casablanca, flight AT0800 from Casablanca to London, and transferred at Heathrow to flight BA1478 for onward travel to Glasgow.
It said the risk of infection to other passengers on the flights is considered extremely low but, as a precaution, it is arranging for all passengers and crew on the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow to be provided with health information. It will be contacting and following up those passengers who were sitting near the affected passenger on these flights.
Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "Our thoughts are with this individual who, along with other NHS and public health colleagues, are doing a fantastic job saving lives. The English and Scottish governments and health authorities are working together to make sure that this individual receives the best possible care. UK hospitals have a proven track record of dealing with imported infectious diseases.
"It is important to be reassured that although a case has been identified, the overall risk to the public continues to be low. 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. The UK system was prepared, and reacted as planned, when this case of Ebola was identified."