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EU on high alert as Germany agrees to accept Ebola patients

Published time: July 30, 2014 13:11
Edited time: September 21, 2014 06:43
A scientist separates blood cells from plasma cells to isolate any Ebola RNA (Reuters / Misha Hussain)

A scientist separates blood cells from plasma cells to isolate any Ebola RNA (Reuters / Misha Hussain)

A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.

A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche Welle reports. Doctors assure that the utmost precautions will be taken to make sure the disease does not spread during treatment. The patients will be kept in an isolation ward behind several airlocks, and doctors and nurses will wear body suits with their own oxygen supplies that will be burned every three hours.

German authorities were expecting the arrival of Sheik Umar Khan, an Ebola expert who caught the disease while treating patients in Sierra Leone, but he died before he could be transported.

"We were actually anticipating the patient's arrival over the weekend," Dr. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, head of the viral diagnostic unit at Hamburg's Bernhard-Nocht-Institute, told German public broadcaster NDR.

This latest outbreak of Ebola originated in Guinea in February and quickly spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria where the first case was reported last week. The disease has already claimed over 650 lives and has prompted authorities in Europe to take measures to prevent its spread.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will chair a meeting of the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA) on Wednesday to discuss the government’s reaction to the outbreak of the deadly disease. On Monday, a man was tested for the virus at a Birmingham Airport following a flight from Nigeria via Paris. The Department of Health later confirmed that the tests were negative and said the UK authorities were prepared to deal with the threat of Ebola.

“Protecting the public from infectious diseases is a priority and we lead the world in this field. We are well prepared to identify and deal with any potential cases of Ebola,” a Department of Health official told reporters.

In Hong Kong, a woman has been hospitalized with a suspected case of Ebola. According to reports from China Daily, the woman had recently returned home from a trip to Africa.

In an effort to confine the spread of the disease, the International Civil Aviation Organization will consult with the World Health Organization.

"Until now [the virus] had not impacted commercial aviation, but now we're affected," WHO Secretary-General Raymond Benjamin told the media, referencing the death of a 40-year-old man who died of Ebola after traveling on Togo-based airline ASKY from Liberia to Nigeria via the Togolese capital of Lome.

"We will have to act quickly," Benjamin said. "We will consult with the WHO to see what types of measures should be put in place."

The Ebola virus spreads through direct contact of bodily fluids and is deadly in up to 90 percent of cases. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and internal bleeding.

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