Two more patients are being tested for Ebola in the UK, less than 24 hours after a woman in Glasgow tested positive for the virus.
In Cornwall, a suspected sufferer was taken into isolation at the Royal Cornwall hospital, near Truro. They were admitted yesterday evening after showing symptoms of the disease, and had recently returned to the country from a “high-risk area”.
Meanwhile, a woman in Scotland has been taken to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to be tested for Ebola. Nicola Sturgeon, the country's first minister, said: “We are operating, given the seriousness of Ebola, on a highly precautionary basis and that’s why this patient over the course of today will be transferred for tests.”
It has not yet been confirmed if either of the patients are suffering from Ebola – their symptoms could be the result of many different types of illness, according to health authorities.
A spokesperson for the Truro hospital said: "A patient has been admitted to Royal Cornwall hospital and is currently undergoing a series of tests - one of which is for Ebola.
"We do not expect the results to be known for at least 24 hours and in the meantime the patient is being looked after in isolation, following nationally agreed guidelines and protocols to protect the health of our staff and other patients.”
RISK TO THE UK
The case in Glasgow arose after a female health worker flew back from Sierra Leone – one of the three countries most affected by the current epidemic.
She had been working out there with charity Save the Children to help prevent the spread of the disease. On her way home, she flew via Casablanca and Heathrow airports. She made the journey aboard a British Airways plane.
She initially underwent treatment at a hospital in Glasgow, but health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that she was transferred to a specialist unit at the Royal Free Hospital in north London. She is reportedly in a stable condition.
The London unit was set up to specifically to deal with any Ebola cases in the UK, should they arise. It is where British nurse William Pooley, the only other British person to have contracted the disease, was successfully treated earlier this year.
Hunt chaired a meeting of Britain's emergency Cobra committee and said the government was doing "absolutely everything it needs to be" to keep the UK safe.
Downing Street issued a statement this morning saying that the UK government stood “ready to assist in any way possible,” and that Prime Minister David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon had agreed that “although the risk to the general population remained low, all measures would be taken to protect public health”.
WHERE HAS IT SPREAD TO?
Since 2013, thousands of people in west Africa have died at the hands of the virus – mostly in three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Spread of the virus outside this area has been limited, but a small number of cases have arisen elsewhere over the past year, including in the US, Spain and, now, the UK. However, no deaths have occurred in Europe and only one death has occurred in the US.
The map below shows the number of cases and deaths caused by the virus, as of 29 December. The darker the colour, the higher the number of deaths.