Official: British Ebola patient to be evacuated

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm •  Published: August 24, 2014
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FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — The first British citizen confirmed to be infected with the deadly Ebola disease is being evacuated from Sierra Leone on a jet sent by the Royal Air Force, a Sierra Leone official said Sunday.

The World Health Organization is also considering medical evacuation for a Senegalese health worker who has become infected in Sierra Leone, the U.N. health agency said.

Neither patient was identified by name.

The British patient was working at an Ebola treatment center in eastern Sierra Leone, the region most affected by the outbreak, said Sidie Yayah Tunis, director of communications for the Sierra Leone health ministry.

The Senegalese health worker is an epidemiologist deployed from a WHO partner organization, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said on Twitter.

The two cases highlight the risks facing health workers on the front lines of the battle against Ebola, which has killed more than 1,400 people across West Africa, according to the latest WHO figures.

"This is the first time someone working under the aegis of WHO has fallen ill with the disease," the WHO said in its statement, adding that more than 225 health workers have been infected and nearly 130 have died from Ebola during the current outbreak.

The British patient was transported via ambulance to Sierra Leone's main airport in the town of Lungi, Tunis said.

Britain's Department of Health said the patient was being flown on a specially equipped RAF transport plane to Northolt air base in London.

He will be treated at London's Royal Free Hospital, which has an isolation unit for infectious disease. The department said in a statement that the patient "is not currently seriously unwell."

The World Health Organization says Sierra Leone has recorded 910 Ebola cases and 392 deaths. The Sierra Leone government says there have been 881 cases and 333 deaths. In Kenema, where the Briton was working, the government has recorded 303 cases.

A total of 2,615 infections and 1,427 deaths have been recorded in the Ebola outbreak now hitting West Africa, according to figures released Friday by the World Health Organization.

On Sunday, Congo said two Ebola-related deaths had been confirmed in the country's northwest Equateur province, but Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said they were unrelated to the West Africa outbreak.

The WHO said confirmation testing of the Congo cases would likely come back Monday.

It would be the seventh outbreak of Ebola in Congo, where the disease was first discovered in 1976.

The Nigerian Medical Association said Sunday it has suspended a public sector doctor strike to help efforts to contain Ebola in the country.

The association directed doctors to return to work Monday while negotiations with the government continue. The strike started on July 1, before Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer flew into Nigeria and introduced the virus in Lagos, the commercial capital. Nigeria's government says the country has 14 confirmed cases, which include Sawyer. The World Health Organization on Friday recorded 16 cases in the country, saying 12 have been confirmed and there are four suspected.

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