8 Oct 2014

Ebola patient Thomas Duncan dies in the US

The first person diagnosed with Ebola outside Africa, Thomas Duncan, dies at a Dallas hospital, as the British government announces it is sending 750 military personnel to west Africa.

Thomas Duncan became ill after arriving in the Texan city from his native Liberia on 20 September to visit family.

Shortly after his arrival, he became ill and went to hospital, which sent him home with antibiotics. Days later, he returned to hospital, where he was placed in an isolation unit and given experimental medication.

Some 48 people he had contact with since arriving in the US are being monitored. None has yet shown any symptoms. Of the 48, 10 people at highest risk are staying in quarantine voluntarily.


Duncan was able to board a flight from Monrovia because he did not have a fever when he was screened at the airport and had filled out a questionnaire saying he he not been in contact with anyone infected with Ebola. Liberian officials said Duncan lied on the questionnaire and had been in contact with a pregnant woman who died of the disease.

The Texas Health Prebyterian Hospital, where he was treated, said in a statement: “Mr Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle.

“Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time.”

The case has heightened concerns the world’s worst Ebola outbreak on record – in west Africa – could spread in the US. CNN reports that from this weekend, the US will initiate a new screening regime for passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

British military

The Ministry of Defence announcement that more than 750 British military personnel and the medical ship RFA Argus are being sent to west Africa to help in the efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak.

RFA Argus, which has a fully-equipped hospital, will be sent to Sierra Leone, along with three Merlin helicopters, it is understood. The deployment was agreed following a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Spanish Nurse Teresa Romero is the first person to contract the virus outside Africa. A doctor treating her at a Madrid hospital said on Wednesday she may have touched her face with the gloves of her protective suit while caring for a priest who died of Ebola.

3,400 dead

The virus, which has killed more than 3,400 people in west Africa since March in the largest outbreak on record, causes haemorrhagic fever and is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person.

Ms Romero is the only confirmed Ebola case in Spain apart from two priests who contracted the disease in Africa and died.

The World Health Organisation has warned that sporadic cases in Europe are “unavoidable”.

The British government has come under pressure to introduce screening at airports and other transport hubs to prevent the disease spreading in the UK.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said: “Our immediate response should be to tighten regulation and introduce measures such as screenings at airports, train stations and ferry ports to ensure that this deadly disease cannot take more lives.”

Last month, British nurse William Pooley was successfully treated in an isolation unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital after contracting Ebola while working in Sierra Leone.