A second UK military healthcare worker has been flown to England following “likely exposure” to the Ebola virus via a needle-stick injury in Sierra Leone. The patient is being monitored at London’s Royal Free Hospital and does not currently have a diagnosis or symptoms of the virus. Public Health England says there is no risk to the general public.
The patient will be watched for 21 days to see if they develop Ebola. Another military health worker was sent to the UK on Saturday following a similar incident and is also being observed at the hospital.
Prof Paul Cosford of Public Health England said: “We can confirm that all the appropriate support is being offered to this individual and that strict protocols have been followed to transfer them back to the UK. “We would like to emphasise that there is no risk to the general public’s health. “Our thoughts are with both of the healthcare workers, and their families, affected at this time.” Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois said: “This is entirely a precautionary measure and our priority is the wellbeing of the individual involved. “Their family has been informed and will receive all possible support from the government.”
He said although the two similar incidents had occurred within a short space of time, they appeared to be unrelated. “Our personnel receive the highest standard of training and briefing prior to deployment,” he said. Needle-stick injuries involve a piercing of the skin by a sharp instrument or object, typically a needle. Experts have said such injuries are one of the most dangerous risks for infection as the virus could be delivered directly into the bloodstream.