The patient was admitted to the hospital early Monday after identifying herself as having a fever. She arrived at the hospital using a specialist ambulance service and was placed into isolation at 7:50 a.m. local time, the government’s statement reads. Officials are investigating and monitoring “all possible contacts” with the patient.
The patient was an employee of NHS Scotland and was working at an Ebola treatment center in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, a spokeswoman for Save the Children UK confirmed to The Post. Save the Children manages the Kerry Town facility. The nurse arrived in Sierra Leone in November, Emma Pomfret added.
The nurse returned late Sunday from Sierra Leone, traveling through Casablanca, Morocco, and London Heathrow Airport. The patient’s British Airways flight landed in Glasgow at about 11:30 p.m. local time, the government said.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to reporters that there were 71 passengers on British Airways Flight 1478, which the patient took from Heathrow to Glasgow. All passengers from the patient’s earlier flights will be contacted and advised as a “precautionary measure,” Sturgeon added.
In an e-mailed statement, British Airways said the airline was “working closely with the health authorities in England and Scotland and will offer assistance with any information they require,” and it encouraged anyone on the Glasgow-bound flight who had concerns to contact the Scottish government’s hotline for the Ebola case. However, the statement said, “the risk to people on board that individual flight is extremely low.”
Government officials stressed that the nurse was “diagnosed in the very early stages of the illness” and that the risk of transmission to others was “extremely low.”
“This is not a disease you can contract by simply sitting next to somebody who has it,” Sturgeon said to reporters. “Contact, personal contact with bodily fluids, is required. This patient was not displaying the kind of symptoms that would have posed a risk to other people when she was en route back to Scotland, and that, I think, is the principle source of reassurance we can give.”
Sturgeon added that the patient is thought to have contact with just one other person since returning to Scotland.
In an e-mail, a spokesman for the Scottish government declined to give additional details about the patient, citing patient confidentiality.
Existing procedures for Ebola cases in the United Kingdom require that patients be transferred to London’s Royal Free Hospital, which is best suited to “ensure the best quality and safest care” for Ebola cases. That will happen “as soon as possible” for the Glasgow case, the Scottish government said.
The Ebola epidemic has mostly affected the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where a combined 20,081 cases (including 7,842 deaths) have been recorded, according to the World Health Organization.
Only five additional countries had reported cases during this Ebola outbreak — the deadliest in history — before Monday. The positive diagnosis in Scotland is the second in Europe this year; Teresa Romero Ramos, a Spanish nursing assistant, contracted the deadly virus in October after treating an Ebola-stricken priest who had been repatriated from Sierra Leone. Ramos survived, and Spain was declared Ebola-free in November.
Earlier this year, a nurse became the first Briton to contract Ebola. William Pooley recovered from the illness after being flown from Sierra Leone to London, where he received an experimental treatment of the drug ZMapp. He has since returned to work in West Africa.
Ohlheiser reported from Washington.
[This post has been updated multiple times.]