News story

Ebola case confirmed in Scotland

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Scottish government confirms a case of Ebola in an individual who had travelled from Sierra Leone.

The Scottish government has confirmed a case of Ebola in an individual in Scotland, who travelled to Glasgow from Sierra Leone.

The patient will be transferred for treatment in isolation at the Royal Free hospital in London.

The UK has well established and practised infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease. These procedures will be strictly followed while the patient is in transit and when receiving treatment at the Royal Free hospital.

The UK government is working closely with the Scottish government to ensure the patient receives the best possible treatment.

The confirmed case of Ebola in Scotland was a healthcare worker returning from Sierra Leone. They had left Sierra Leone on 28 December and had been 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.

The risk of infection to other passengers on the flights is considered extremely low. However, as a precaution, Public Health England is arranging for all passengers and crew on the flight from Casablanca to Heathrow to be provided with health information and will be contacting and following up those passengers who were sitting near the affected passenger on these flights. Health Protection Scotland is carrying out a similar exercise for the passengers on the Heathrow to Glasgow flight.

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit or faeces, of an infected person while they are symptomatic. Therefore, the risk of Ebola being passed from an individual before they developed symptoms is extremely low.

As before, the advice is that if anyone is worried about symptoms (such as fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throat or rash) within 21 days of coming back from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, they should stay at home and immediately telephone 111 or 999 and explain they believe they have come into contact with someone with Ebola.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said:

Our thoughts are with this individual who, along with other NHS and public health colleagues, has been doing a fantastic job saving lives.

The UK and Scottish governments and English and Scottish 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 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.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said:

For Ebola to be transmitted from one person to another contact with blood or other body fluids is needed. The individual involved did not experience any symptoms consistent with the transmission of Ebola, and as such, the risk that this infection will have been passed from the affected individual to others is extremely unlikely.

However as a precaution, PHE is following up all those in the vicinity of the passenger on the flight to the UK to ensure anyone who feels unwell undergoes a medical assessment rapidly. Our colleagues at Health Protection Scotland are carrying out a similar exercise for the passengers on the Heathrow to Glasgow flight.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s Medical Director, said:

The NHS is prepared. The Royal Free hospital has an international standard infectious diseases team with experience treating dangerous diseases including Ebola. Staff who treat these patients have volunteered in the same way as those working in West Africa – testament to their dedication and professionalism.