A health care worker who recently returned from West Africa to the United Kingdom has become the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the country, it was confirmed Monday.
In a statement, the Scottish government said the infected patient had been helping to fight the disease in Sierra Leone before returning to Scotland on Sunday night.
The confirmed diagnosis comes on the same day that the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the number of people infected by Ebola in the three hardest-hit countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — has now surpassed 20,000.
The patient, described by the BBC as a female aid worker, traveled through Casablanca, Morocco and London Heathrow Airport before arriving in Glasgow Airport via a British Airways flight around 11:30 p.m.
The individual was admitted to Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow at around 7.50 a.m. Monday after feeling ill. The patient has since been isolated and plans are in place to transport the worker to London’s Royal Free Hospital, in line with already established plans should a case of Ebola be diagnosed in the U.K.
Officials have been quick to stress the low risk of further spread in the U.K. The Scottish government statement noted that the individual was diagnosed in the "very early stages of the illness" and as a result the threat to others is “considered extremely low."
Nevertheless, the government said anyone who may have had contact with the worker and deemed to be at risk would be contacted and monitored.
"Our first thoughts at this time must be with the patient diagnosed with Ebola and their friends and family. I wish them a speedy recovery," First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement. "Scotland has been preparing for this possibility from the beginning of the outbreak in West Africa and I am confident that we are well prepared."
Sturgeon said the patient had been screened for symptoms before leaving Sierra Leone and at London Heathrow Airport.
The WHO said Monday that the cumulative case numbers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea now stands at 20,081, with more than than 7,842 deaths due to the epidemic so far.
In August, another British aid worker, William Pooley, contracted the disease after working in Sierra Leone. He recovered after treatment in London and returned to West Africa.
Al Jazeera and wire services