Macedonia fears ebola spread as Briton dies

Macedonia has confirmed it is checking for the ebola virus in a British man who died within hours of being admitted to hospital in the capital Skopje yesterday.

Authorities sealed off a hotel where he had been staying, isolating a second Briton and hotel staff.

A Health Ministry official said the man had arrived from Britain on October 2 and had been rushed to hospital at 3pm yesterday where he died several hours later.

Dr Jovanka Kostovska of the ministry’s commission for infectious diseases said the man had been suffering from fever, vomiting and internal bleeding, and that his condition had deteriorated rapidly.

Amid fears that the disease might spread in Europe, Kostovska told a news conference: “These are all symptoms of ebola, which raises suspicions with this patient.”

It was unclear, however, whether the man had recently been to West Africa, where ebola has killed nearly 4,000 people since March in the largest outbreak on record.

“Initially we had information that he had been to Nigeria, but then his friend told us they hadn’t been anywhere,” said Kostovska.

A government spokesman said later: “Medical authorities have informed us that up until now they cannot confirm whether the patient who died had ebola. But as a precaution, based on the protocol of the World Health Organisation, medical authorities are taking all measures as if the patient had been suffering from a highly infectious disease.”

Meanwhile, new enhanced screening techniques will be introduced in Britain for passengers travelling from the main ebola-affected regions in west Africa — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Enhanced screening will initially be implemented at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and Eurostar terminals and will involve assessing passengers’ recent travel history, who they have been in contact with and onward travel arrangements as well as a possible medical assessment, conducted by trained medical personnel rather than Border Force staff. Passengers will also be given advice on what to do should they develop symptoms later.

“However, it is important to stress that given the nature of this disease, no system could offer 100% protection from non-symptomatic cases.”

About 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job at New York’s LaGuardia Airport protesting what they say is insufficient protection from exposure to ebola for workers whose jobs include cleaning up vomit and bathrooms.

Picket lines were set up overnight by non-unionised Air Serv cleaners outside Terminal D at LaGuardia for a one-day strike prompted by fears about the deadly virus, forcing airline crews to clean the planes themselves.

Meanwhile, the Spanish nurse who had been the first person known to have caught ebola outside of Africa is at serious risk of dying, the regional president said

The Madrid hospital where she is being treated announced her health has worsened. “Her clinical situation has deteriorated but I can’t provide more information,” a spokeswoman for the La Paz-Carlos III hospital told reporters.

The nurse, Teresa Romero, helped treat two elderly Spanish missionaries who died after returning from west Africa with ebola. She tested positive for the disease on Monday.

Two doctors who treated the nursing assistant have been admitted to a Madrid hospital for precautionary observation.


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