30 Dec 2014

Two more tested for Ebola as nurse is moved to London

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey is transferred to London’s Royal Free hospital to be treated for Ebola, as two more people are tested for the disease in Truro and Aberdeen.

Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey is now being treated in a state-of-the-art isolation unit at London’s Royal Free hospital, after being brought to the capital in a quarantine tent on board a military-style aircraft.

It was announced that she is to be offered plasma with antibodies donated by William Pooley, the nurse who was successfully treated at the same London hospital after developing Ebola in Sierra Leone.

It has emerged that she had the regulation test at Heathrow on arrival from Sierra Leone on 28 December, and then remained at the airport where she made contact again an hour and a quarter later, fearing a raised temperature. She was tested six times over the next half an hour, but was cleared to fly on to Scotland.

She was admitted to hospital in Glasgow the next day after feeling feverish.

Two more tested

Two other people who have been in west Africa are also now in isolation and being tested for Ebola – one at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and one at the Royal Cornwall hospital in Truro. Blood tests for Ebola are only possible once symptoms are present.

Test results were due in Aberdeen on Tuesday evening, but Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the chance of it being confirmed as Ebola as a “low probability”.

It is understood the Cornish case is a person who has recently returned from a country affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Healthcare workers travelling to assist Ebola aid efforts are encouraged to register before they leave in order that their local health authorities can be informed when they return to the UK.

Guidance ‘kept under review’

The Department of Health emphasised that all returning healthcare workers were screened, and those not showing symptoms were issued with self-testing kits for use at home.

Nicola Sturgeon described the risk to the public as “extremely low to the point of negligible”. She told a press conference on Tuesday that so far 63 out of 70 passengers who had travelled on the same flights as Ms Cafferkey and another person she is known to have had contact with, have been spoken to directly or had messages left for them. They have all been advised to monitor their own temperatures until 18 Jan.

Ms Sturgeon said that “all of the procedures in place are considered to be robust, but are kept under review” and the current case could inform future guidance.

NHS nurse with Ebola transferred to plane in isolation unit (Reuters)

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey is loaded in a quarantine tank onto a flight from Glasgow to London

Ebola timeline
23 November
Pauline Cafferkey flies to Sierra Leone with other NHS volunteers
25 December Ms Cafferkey reportedly attends church service in Kerry Town without wearing her protective suit
28 December Ms Cafferkey flies from Sierra Leone to Casablanca, waiting six hours in the lounge, then on to Heathrow. Later that night she flies to Glasgow with British Airways
29 December Ms Cafferkey placed in isolation in Glasgow after feeling feverish
30 December Ms Cafferkey transferred to specialist isolation unit in London (see picture above). Tests carried out on two other possible cases, in Aberdeen and Truro.