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Briton in Sierra Leone tests positive for Ebola virus

A British national in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, the first person from the country to have contracted the deadly virus that has claimed the lives of over 1,400 people.

The patient, who has not been identified, is being offered assistance by medical teams in Sierra Leone, the UK’s Department of Health said.

The Briton, apparently a medic working for a charity, had been living in Sierra Leone, one the countries worst affected by the deadly virus.

British media reported that the patient was being assessed for transfer back to the UK.

Isolation units have been set up at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, the BBC reported.

The virus – one of the world’s deadliest diseases – is spread between humans through direct contact with infected blood.

Meanwhile, Prof John Watson, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the overall risk to the public in the UK from Ebola continued to be “very low”.

“Medical experts are currently assessing the situation in Sierra Leone to ensure that appropriate care is provided,” he said.

“We have robust, well-developed and well-tested National Health Service (NHS) systems for managing unusual infectious diseases when they arise, supported by a wide range of experts.”

There is no cure for Ebola, although an experimental drug helped two Americans recover and three medical staff have also shown signs of improvement after taking it in Liberia.

Foreign Office advice, updated earlier this week, urged people to carefully assess their need to travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

British Airways suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone on August 5 until the end of the month.

The World Health Organisation has put the number of people infected with the virus at 2,615. A total of 1,427 have died since the disease was identified in Guinea in March and spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Symptoms appear as a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

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