LONDON Aug 23 A British national living in
Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, the first Briton to
fall victim to the deadly disease, the Department of Health said
Some 1,427 people have died among 2,615 cases documented in
the world's worst outbreak of the highly contagious hemorrhagic
fever that has spread across west Africa since first being
identified in Guinea in March.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer John Watson confirmed a British
national was among those suffering from Ebola and said medical
experts were assessing the situation in Sierra Leone to ensure
appropriate care was provided.
"The overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be
very low," Watson said in a statement.
No further details about the British national were
Ebola, which is passed on by direct contact with the bodily
fluids of infected persons, strikes hardest at healthcare
providers and carers who work closely with patients.
The vast majority of cases of Ebola have been in the remote
border areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, but concern
over Ebola's spread grew last month when a U.S. citizen died in
Nigeria of the virus after arriving from the region.
On Aug. 5 British Airways announced it was suspending
flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia until Aug. 31 due to the
deteriorating public health situation.
The British foreign ministry has said Britons should think
carefully before travelling to Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia.
"General medical facilities throughout Sierra Leone are
currently under severe strain due to the Ebola outbreak and
unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the UK,"
current advice states.
"Dedicated healthcare facilities for Ebola are overwhelmed."
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)