FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A Ugandan doctor infected with Ebola arrived in Frankfurt from Sierra Leone for treatment, local officials said on Friday.
“The patient is a physician from Uganda, who has worked for an Italian NGO and has looked after patients in Sierra Leone,” Stefan Gruettner, Health Minister of the state of Hesse said. The patient’s name was not disclosed.
The worst ever Ebola outbreak has killed at least 3,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, overwhelming health systems and crippling fragile economies.
A case in the United States has heightened concerns that Ebola could spread globally and raise further questions about travel restrictions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) asked Germany to help take care of the patient and he was now being treated in an isolation unit in Frankfurt’s University Hospital,” said Rene Gottschalk, head of Frankfurt’s center for highly contagious life-threatening diseases.
“Within 30 minutes (of landing) the patient was out of the airplane and put into a special transport vehicle bringing him to the clinic,” Gottschalk said.
The patient is being treated at Frankfurt University Hospital which has 1,500 beds and a special unit that can treat up to six Ebola patients simultaneously. It has so far not received requests to take on additional cases.
Curing an Ebola patient can cost up to 250,000 euros ($315,000) and in this case a health insurer is paying the bill, Gottschalk said. The Ugandan patient is being taken care of by eight doctors and 16 nurses.
“The patient is in a very serious condition, but is stable,” said Timo Wolf, the physician entrusted with his treatment. The symptoms may worsen over the next couple of days, he added.
In a different case in Germany, a patient, who was brought to a hospital in Hamburg in August, has been cured.
Treatment mainly consists of making sure a patient has enough fluid, gets antibiotics against secondary infections and does not suffer extreme pain, Wolf said.
The special hospital building in which the Ugandan doctor is being treated has its own air supply. All doctors and nurses wear waterproof overalls which are inflated so the extra air pressure acts as a barrier against the virus.
Safety locks at the entrance of the building, guarded by security staff, aim to ensure no contagious material can get out.
“There is absolutely no risk for citizens and the hospital will continue to function as normal,” said Kai Zacharowski, medical director of Frankfurt University Hospital.
Additional reporting by Reuters TV; Editing by Robin Pomeroy