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British nurse returns from Sierra Leone with Ebola virus

02 January 2015

by a staff reporter


Identities: 18 orphaned children affected by Ebola, who are being helped by the St George's Foundation (see below)

Identities: 18 orphaned children affected by Ebola, who are being helped by the St George's Foundation (see below)

A BRITISH nurse has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus, after returning from Sierra Leone, where she had been working in a treatment centre run by Save the Children.

Pauline Cafferkey - an NHS employee who volunteered to fight Ebola - flew home to Glasgow, via London Heathrow, on Sunday night, and was admitted to hospital in Glasgow on Monday morning. She was moved overnight to the Royal Free Hospital, in London, which successfully treated the British nurse William Pooley, who also contracted the virus in Sierra Leone.

She had been working in the treatment centre in Kerry Town since November.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who visited Sierra Leone just before Christmas, called for prayers for her. He tweeted: "The Ebola of the Glasgow health worker shows the courage of those serving in S Leone, we owe them thanks and respect, let us pray for her."

The number infected with the virus passed 20,000 over Christmas, and infections were still increasing in parts of Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported. Infections are decreasing in neighbouring Liberia, and fluctuating in Guinea, where the first case of this latest outbreak was reported in a remote village a year ago.

WHO figures show that, in total, there have been 24 reported cases and 15 reported deaths per 100,000 people in Guinea, 199 cases and 85 deaths per 100,000 people in Liberia, and 157 cases and 45 deaths per 100,000 people in Sierra Leone.

More than 7000 are thought to have died in this latest outbreak of the virus so far.

One of Sierra Leone's most senior physicians, Dr Victor Willoughby, died before Christmas, the 11th of the country's 120 doctors to die from the virus. He died just hours after an experimental drug was flown in from Canada to treat him, but before it could be administered.

A small charity run from the dining room of a churchgoer in Hampshire is trying to help children orphaned by the virus, either because their parents have died, or because they aren't allowed to return, as their community is scared of contagion.

Philip Dean, from St Barnabas's Swanmore, set up St George's Foundation ten years ago to care for children left orphaned or homeless after the civil war in Sierra Leone. But since the arrival of the virus, the charity has been focusing on taking in children orphaned or alone because of the virus, all of whom arrive with nothing as all their possessions have been burnt as part of virus-control measures.

"In the first month, we recorded over 500 affected children, and have taken 42 into our direct care. Unfortunately, we don't receive any funding for this from any government or national organisation," Mr Dean said.

The UK Government has said that the charity is too small to be considered for funding; so Mr Dean is appealing to churchgoers to support the foundation.

It costs an average of £200 to help each child recuperate, receive counselling, and track down relatives who are willing to help. Each child receives care for up to six weeks.

One of those helped was Julius, 13, who was visiting his aunt in Freetown when she contracted the virus and died. The house was quarantined for 21 days. Julius became sick, too, and was taken to a treatment centre. When he went home, the community refused to believe he was not contagious, and he was living on the streets of Freetown when he was discovered.


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