1. ITV Report

What would happen if a British Ebola patient was brought to the UK?

Medical workers in the vicinity of Ebola patients must wear head-to-foot protective clothing Photo: Reuters

How would an Ebola patient get home?

Repatriation is likely to be considered for any Briton who contracts the Ebola virus in West Africa because of "strains" on the health system in the affected countries, according to Professor Tom Solomon, director of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool.

Some newspapers have reported that the patient would be flown to RAF Northolt near Heathrow before being transferred to a medical facility.

The two US patients who were repatriated from Liberia- Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol - were flown in a medical charter flight carrying a portable isolation tent.

An Aeromedical Biological Containment System - or isolation tent - simila to that used to repatriate the two US patients Credit: REUTERS/CDC/Handout via Reuters

The aircraft - a modified Gulfstream III business jet - was only able to carry one patient at a time, accompanied by staff in head-to-food protective clothing.

From the airport, the patients were transported by ambulance to a specialist wing of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Where would a patient be treated?

Any Ebola patients to arrive in the UK would likely be treated at a London hospital, according to Professor Tom Solomon.

We do have facilities in the UK for caring for people with haemorrhagic fevers. There is a high-level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London which is very well set up for things like this.

– Professor Tom Solomon
A high level isolation apparatus in the High Secure Infectious Disease Unit at The Royal Free Hospital in London Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The patient would be treated in the hospital's high-level isolation unit, which has been on standby for weeks. The unit can be operational within eight hours and has only treated two people since it opened eight years ago.

Is there any risk to the public?

An expert at the Department of Health has said that the "overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low".

We have robust, well-developed and well-tested NHS systems for managing unusual infectious diseases when they arise, supported by a wide range of experts.


According to the World Health Organisation, infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood or other bodily fluids of infected people.

Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with objects such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or needles used by an infected person.

So long as the appropriate protective clothing and isolation measures are taken, there is a very low risk to those treating Ebola patients.

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