UK & World News

  • 24 August 2014, 3:00

Ebola: Briton Tests Positive In Sierra Leone

A Briton living in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the deadly ebola virus.

Medical experts are assessing the unidentified patient "to ensure that appropriate care is delivered", the Department of Health said.

It is the first confirmed case of a British person catching the tropical infection, which kills up to 90% of people who contract it.

Journalist Katie Mark, who has just returned from a Sierra Leone village at the epicentre of the outbreak, told Sky News that people are sometimes afraid of reporting the virus.

"There are not enough resources being put into stopping the spread of ebola," she said.

"If someone dies the body can be sitting there for up to eight days and in that time the disease can spread further.

"There is not enough knowledge about the virus and people are scared to report it.

"They see ebola as a death sentence, that if the family is going to die they would rather they die at home. They do not realise that if they get treatment their chance of survival is greatly increased."

Earlier this month British Airways suspended flights to Sierra Leone, along with Liberia, for weeks over fears about the outbreak.

The Foreign Office has advised Britons to "carefully assess" whether they really need to travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Since the current outbreak began earlier this year, there have been 2,615 confirmed cases and 1,427 deaths, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation.

Medical charity Medicine Sans Frontieres has warned infections are spreading faster than authorities could handle and that it could take six months to bring the crisis under control.

Ebola is spread by contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, such as sweat and blood, and no cure or vaccine is currently available.

Professor John Watson, Britain's deputy chief medical officer for England, insisted the risk to the public remained "very low".

It was announced on Friday that an Irishman being treated for malaria two weeks after returning from Sierra Leone, who was found dead in Co Donegal on Thursday, tested negative for ebola.

Blood tests were conducted on Civil engineer Dessie Quinn, 43, following a post-mortem examination into his death amid fears he may have contracted the virus.

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