Ebola, positive patient in Belfast

Test results due on Belfast hospital patient. The patient has been isolated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

BBC.COM – The Public Health Agency (PHA) has said it is waiting for results of an Ebola test for a patient in a Belfast hospital. The person is being treated in an isolation unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital. The PHA said the person had recently travelled in an Ebola-affected area. Having already tested positive for malaria, a blood sample will confirm if the patient also has Ebola. Those results are expected within 48 hours. The BBC understands the patient has been in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s special isolation unit since Friday. It is not yet known if the patient is a man or a woman.
The PHA said the person in question was being assessed and tested in accordance with a national contingency plan. In line with national guidelines, nursing staff are wearing protective clothing while caring for the patient. BBC News NI health correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly said it was “highly unlikely” that Northern Ireland had a positive case of Ebola. She said if a case was confirmed, the patient would be categorised according to risk. Category one is a low risk patient, while category four would mean the Royal Air Force would transport the patient to England. Last month, it was announced that senior doctors in Northern Ireland had been putting contingency plans in place for an outbreak of Ebola.
The PHA said it was keeping in regular contact with staff across the health service and advised that there was no increased risk to other patients or the wider community.
It said there was no change to the current situation in Northern Ireland in that the risk to the public was “very low”.
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, can be a severe illness in humans.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is two to 21 days.

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