Two British military health workers have been flown back to England from Sierra Leone in the past three days, following “likely exposure” to the Ebola virus.
The patients both received needle-prick injuries while treating patients infected with the disease, and have been transported back to the UK for monitoring at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
Needle-stick injuries involve a sharp instrument or object, typically a needle, piercing the skin, and pose a serious threat of infection because the virus could be delivered directly into the bloodstream.
Neither patient has presented symptoms or has been diagnosed with Ebola, but they will be monitored for the next 21 days.
The first patient arrived back in the UK on 31 January aboard an RAF flight, and the second followed on 2 February.
Public Health England (PHE) said that there is no threat to public health.
Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s director for health protection and medical director, said:
“We can confirm that all the appropriate support is being offered…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:
“Although we have had 2 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.”