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Second military health worker admitted to Royal Free in Ebola scare

PUBLISHED: 10:09 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:52 03 February 2015

A second military health worker is being monitored by staff at the Royal Free after sustaining a needle injury while treating a patient with Ebola in Sierra Leone. Picture: Yui Mok

A second military health worker is being monitored by staff at the Royal Free after sustaining a needle injury while treating a patient with Ebola in Sierra Leone. Picture: Yui Mok

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A second military health worker has been admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead after an injury from a needle led to fears they may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus.

The hospital in Pond Street confirmed it had received the patient from Sierra Leone yesterday and that they had been admitted for assessment. In a statement, the hospital said: “The individual is likely to have been exposed to Ebola virus but has not been diagnosed with Ebola and does not have symptoms.”

It comes after another UK military health worker was admitted on Saturday for a similar, but said to be unrelated, injury also sustained in Sierra Leone and also while treating someone infected with Ebola.

This patient has also not been diagnosed with the disease and is said not to be showing any symptoms.

Both patients will continue to be monitored by staff at the Royal Free until the end of their 21 day incubation period.

The pair are being kept in isolation but are not thought to have been sited in the same two-bed High Level Isolation Unit (HLIU) that successfully treated UK nurses Pauline Cafferkey and William Pooley. The unit is only for those confirmed to have contracted Ebola.

The hospital had previously told this paper an overspill ward would be used should this unit be full and more patients suspected of having or diagnosed with Ebola present themselves. It today said this action plan was no longer in place. The paper is awaiting a comment from NHS England on what plans are in place should the Royal Free’s unit find itself at capacity.

Commenting on the two military health workers, 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.

“Although we have had two similar incidents within a short space of time both appear to be unrelated. Our personnel receive the highest standard of training and briefing prior to deployment, including on the use of the specialised personal protective equipment.

“On a visit to the country before Christmas I witnessed first-hand the bravery and commitment of the personnel who are doing such a fantastic job in Sierra Leone. Their efforts are deserving of the highest praise and we wish all the best for their 2 colleagues who are now in the UK.”

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