London’s response to the Ebola virus was tested last night after a woman who had recently travelled in West Africa walked into A&E at a south London hospital exhibiting symptoms of “haemorrhagic fever”. It was thought she could be Britain’s first Ebola case, but she was cleared after tests this morning.
A spokesman for St. George’s Hospital said last night: “A patient has been admitted to St George’s Hospital this evening with a haemorrhagic fever and is currently undergoing a series of tests, as a precaution one of which is for Ebola. The trust has followed national guidance and moved the patient to our clinical infections unit where they are being cared for in isolation, away from other patients.
“Infection control procedures remain in place while we await the outcome of the tests.
“We are confident that all appropriate actions have been taken by our staff to protect the public and the patient”.
This morning it was revealed that despite concerns, the woman was not carrying the Ebola virus. A spokesman said: “In line with national guidance the patient was moved to our clinical infections unit and underwent a series of tests, as a precaution one of which was for Ebola. The outcome of the Ebola test result is negative. We can confirm that the patient will remain at St George’s Hospital.
“All appropriate actions have been taken by our staff to protect the public and the patient”, reports the Daily Mail.
Although patients who have been diagnosed with Ebola abroad have been flown to the UK for treatment, as of yet no cases have been diagnosed domestically. As a measure to intercept developed cases, and to reassure the public screening for the virus has started at two British airports. As many flights from Africa’s infected west-coast terminate in France rather than the United Kingdom, screening has also started at the Eurostar terminals in Southeast England, which provides a direct rail-link from Britain to the continent.
Observing the fast spread of Ebola in West Africa and noting the poor conditions of many health centres and hospitals in the region, European and American health practitioners were initially confident that should the virus spread to the Western world there would be significantly less risk. This assumption has been challenged over the past month as healthcare professionals in Spain and the United States, both of which have sophisticated and expensive healthcare systems contracted the virus while treating others.
Although the public in many countries have agitated for tougher controls over the Ebola virus out of fear of it spreading through the porous borders of the modern West, some are beginning to grow frustrated with the measures they see as draconian. One quarantined nurse in the United States defied the controls by going for a bike ride last week, to demonstrate her own health. She cycled at a slow pace to allow a pack of journalists and cameramen to keep up with her on foot.
Nurse Hickox said: “They will not allow me to leave my house and have any interaction with the public even though I am completely healthy and symptom-free”.