29 December 2014
Last updated at 22:02
A healthcare worker who has just returned from West Africa has been diagnosed with Ebola and is being treated in hospital in Glasgow.
The woman, who arrived from Sierra Leone on Sunday night, is in isolation at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital.
All possible contacts with the case are being investigated, including on flights to Scotland via Heathrow.
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the woman would be taken to a specialist unit in London.
She will be flown from Glasgow and taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London “as soon as we possibly can,” Mr Hunt said.
It is expected she will be transferred overnight by air ambulance.
The hospital has a specialist isolation unit and treated William Pooley, the British nurse who contracted and recovered from Ebola.
Mr Hunt said the government was doing “absolutely everything it needs to be” to keep the UK safe.
Charity Save the Children confirmed the woman was an NHS health worker who was working with them at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.
The organisation’s humanitarian director, Michael von Bertele, said: “Save the Children is working closely with the UK government, Scottish government and Public Health England to look into the circumstances surrounding the case.”
At a news conference in Glasgow, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stressed that the risk to the general public was very low.
She added that the patient was thought to have had contact with only one other person since arriving in the city, but that all passengers on the flights the woman took will be traced.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Apart from other passengers on the flights and obviously the hospital staff since this patient’s admittance to hospital, she, the patient is thought to have had contact with only one other person in Scotland since returning to Scotland last night and that person will also be contacted and given appropriate reassurance.”
Alisdair MacConachie, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “She’s being managed in an isolation facility by staff who are comfortable managing patients in such a situation. She herself is quite stable and is not showing any great clinical concern at the minute.”
NHS Scotland said infectious diseases procedures had been put into effect at the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at Gartnavel.
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids – such as blood, vomit or faeces – of an infected person.
The patient returned to Scotland from Sierra Leone late on Sunday via Casablanca and London Heathrow, arriving into Glasgow Airport on a British Airways flight at about 23:30.
While public health experts have emphasised that the risks are negligible, a telephone helpline has been set up for anyone who was on the BA 1478 Heathrow to Glasgow flight. The number is: 08000 858531
The woman had been admitted to hospital early on Monday morning after feeling unwell and was placed into isolation at 07.50.
What are the symptoms?
The early symptoms are a sudden fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and sore throat.
This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding – both internal and external – which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools.
Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.
A British Airways spokesman said: “We are working closely with the health authorities in England and Scotland and will offer assistance with any information they require.
“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and the risk to people on board that individual flight is extremely low.”
Ms Sturgeon has chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee (SGoRR) and has also spoken to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Hunt is to chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee on Monday evening.
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.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “It is important to be reassured that although a case has been identified, the overall the 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.”