A British national living in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, the first Briton to fall victim to the deadly disease that has spread across the West African region since March, the Department of Health said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the current Ebola epidemic – the world’s worst ever with 1,427 documented deaths – will likely take six to nine months to halt.
Some aid organizations, including medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, have warned that the outbreak, which began in Guinea before spreading to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, is now out of control.
The WHO conceded on Friday that the hiding of victims and the existence of “shadow zones” where medics cannot go has concealed the true scale of the epidemic.
Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer John Watson confirmed a British national was among those suffering from Ebola and said medical experts were assessing the situation in Sierra Leone to ensure appropriate care was provided.
“The overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low,” Watson said in a statement.
No further details about the British national were immediately available, and it was not known whether there were plans to evacuate the patient.