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UK nurse with Ebola 'in critical condition'

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The Royal Free Hospital The Royal Free Hospital

Pauline Cafferkey, the public health nurse diagnosed with Ebola after returning from Sierra Leone, is in a 'critical condition' the Royal Free Hospital has announced.

Ms Cafferkey returned from West Africa on 28 December. She was diagnosed as having Ebola on 29 December, and flown to an isolated unit in the Royal Free Hospital, London, to receive treatment on 30 December. The charity Save the Children, who Ms Cafferkey was volunteering with, has announced that it will lead an investigation into how she contracted the disease.

The Royal Free Hospital announced on 31 December that Ms Cafferkey was 'sitting up in bed, talking and reading,' and had decided to receive blood plasma treatment and an experimental antiviral drug. However, the hospital later announced that Ms Cafferkey's condition had severely deteriorated, and she was listed as in a critical condition.

PHE has reiterated that the risk of contracting Ebola in the UK remains low. Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection at PHE, said: 'The individual involved did not experience any symptoms consistent with the transmission of Ebola, and as such, the risk that this infection will have been passed from the affected individual to others is extremely unlikely.'

Ms Cafferkey was screened at Heathrow airport, after she complained that a fever was developing. However, her temperature was found to be within the normal range, and she was allowed to board a flight to Glasgow. Mr Cosford added: 'As a precaution, PHE is following up all those in the vicinity of the passenger on the flight to the UK to ensure anyone who feels unwell undergoes a medical assessment rapidly.'

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to spread. Figures released by the WHO on 28 December show that the disease has claimed 7905 lives out of 20,206 confirmed cases.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. The disease is transferred through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

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