British nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who has been receiving treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London, has reportedly taken a turn for the worse and is now classified as ‘critical’.
The 39 year old was sitting up in her hospital bed and talking in the last few days, although doctors warned that even though her condition seemed to be improving it could deteriorate, the Daily Mail reports.
A statement was released by the hospital, saying:
‘The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is sorry to announce that the condition of Pauline Cafferkey has gradually deteriorated over the past two days and is now critical.’
Questions have been asked as to how the Scottish nurse was allowed to board a transfer flight to her home city of Glasgow, despite complaining of a fever. On landing at London’s Heathrow Airport after returning from Africa, where she had been helping to treat patients suffering from the killer virus, she had her temperature taken seven times by officials after she raised concerns about her health.
But only hours after landing in the Scottish city she was rushed to an isolation unit in a nearby hospital before being transferred to the London hospital where fellow nurse Will Pooley was successfully treated for the virus earlier this year.
The NHS nurse is being treated in the isolation unit at the hospital where doctors warned her condition may worsen despite showing signs of improvement last week.
Miss Cafferkey returned to Britain last Sunday after spending five weeks in Africa with other volunteers.
On hearing the news of the decline in her health, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Our thoughts continue to be with Pauline Cafferkey and her family during this extremely distressing time.
“I would like to thank all of the health professionals involved in treating Pauline, as they continue to show tremendous dedication and expertise.”
Miss Cafferkey, who has allowed herself to be ‘a human guinea pig’ had shown signs of improvement after being treated with a plasma drug as well as blood from a patient who contracted ebola and survived. But the Royal Free has been unable to get hold of the drug ZMapp which Mr Pooley was treated with because “there is none in the world at the moment”.
On Tuesday Dr Michael Jacobs who has been treating her said the next few days were “critical”.
‘She’s as well as we can hope for at this stage of the illness” he said. “Things could get worse, but in a week’s time we will know a lot more about where we stand.”
“Ebola is unpredictable, but her illness is at an early stage and that gives her the best possible chance to recover. As we’ve explained to Pauline, we can’t be as confident as we would like. “
But one of the passengers who was part of the same volunteer group as the nurse on the way home from Africa slammed the process at Heathrow Airport, saying it was “shambolic.”
Martin Deahl, 58, said ‘There seemed to be too few staff and too few rooms or places to put us in.”
‘We were crowded into a small reception area where we waited for an hour or more.
‘I had a higher temperature so they wanted to put me in a room by myself – but they could not find one because they were using every inch of space.’
He also said that they had received official guidance saying they could return home by public transport, with many returning directly from West Africa to cram onto crowded tubes, trains and buses.