In a follow-up to a report yesterday concerning a UK military healthcare worker in Sierra Leone who contracted the Ebola virus, Development Secretary Justine Greening in an update to the House of Commons said the female military healthcare worker has tested positive and is being flown back and will shortly be in the Royal Free Hospital in London.
The individual is being transported in a specially equipped military plane and will be treated in a special high level isolation unit at the London hospital. The yet unnamed individual who has tested positive for Ebola was exposed to the virus in a frontline care setting in Sierra Leone.
Public Health England officials said rapid tracing was undertaken in Sierra Leone to identify anyone that had been in recent close contact with the diagnosed individual.
This contact tracing identified 4 military healthcare workers requiring further assessment. On the same precautionary basis that has been adhered to previously, 2 healthcare workers are returning on the same military plane today and will be assessed at the Royal Free Hospital. They will then be monitored for any symptoms for the remainder of their incubation period, in line with standard procedures.
The 2 other individuals are currently being assessed in Sierra Leone, to inform a clinical decision regarding bringing them to the UK. If a decision is made to transport them to the UK for further assessment, they will be taken to Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, in line with Ebola response plans. None of the 4 individuals has been diagnosed with Ebola.
In addition to the update above, Secretary Greening said, “The number of cases per week has reduced from well over 500 in November to less than 60 now.
“Our strategy is working, and President Koroma and others have thanked the UK government and the UK public for their critical and unwavering support.
“I am extremely proud that Britain’s support means there are now enough Ebola beds, testing labs, trained burial teams and an effective command and control structure to track down the disease across Sierra Leone and stop it spreading further.
“The challenge now is to get to zero cases as quickly as possible. That is not going to be easy. We are looking at months not weeks till the end of this crisis.”
According to the new World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola Situation Report Mar. 11, a total of 116 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported in the week to 8 March, compared with 132 the previous week. Liberia reported no new confirmed cases for the second consecutive week while Sierra Leone and Guinea saw 58 new confirmed cases each.
Overall, there have been 24,247 reported confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 9,961 reported deaths (outcomes for many cases are unknown).
A total of 840 confirmed health worker infections have been reported in the 3 intense-transmission countries; there have been 491 reported deaths.