PAULINE CAFFERKEY, the NHS nurse who developed symptoms of the
Ebola virus after returning to the UK from Sierra Leone, remains in
a critical but stable condition in a hospital in north London.
In a statement to the House of Commons on Monday, the Health
Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told MPs that Ms Cafferkey, who volunteered
to help sufferers from the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone last year,
was seriously ill, but was being cared for at the Royal Free
"She said in Sierra Leone that she hoped her loved ones would be
proud of her," Mr Hunt said. "Well, she should know today that the
whole country is proud of her for her bravery and dedication to the
service of others. She stands, quite simply, for the very best of
Ms Cafferkey's temperature was checked after she arrived at
Heathrow. She was permitted to travel on to Glasgow, where she
became feverish, and was admitted to hospital (News, 2
January). Mr Hunt said that the system had worked, as she did
not show the necessary symptoms at Heathrow to justify quarantining
her, but she had followed procedure after becoming ill.
Ms Cafferkey is being treated with an unnamed experimental drug,
as well as blood from a British nurse, William Pooley, who
successfully recovered from the virus last year (News, 29
Mr Hunt said that Britain had led the way in Europe in creating
a screening process for arrivals from West Africa, besides giving
more money and staff to fight the disease than any other nation
except the United States.
To help ensure that the UK could cope with any outbreak of the
Ebola virus, 75,000 protective suits would be bought by the NHS,
and three vaccines were currently undergoing clinical trials, Mr
The disease continues to spread in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and
elsewhere. A total of 7905 people have died from the virus, and
more than 20,000 have caught the disease.
In Dolo's Town, Liberia, 43 members of a single church
congregation died in a matter of weeks. Chloe Brett, an aid worker
from the charity Street Child, who visited the town in December,
said on Tuesday that hundreds of children had been orphaned by the
"The choirmaster had gone away for somebody else's funeral," Ms
Brett said, "and, after coming back to the church for a special
service, had got very sick. After they died, their family bathed
the body, they then got sick, and basically everyone died."
She said that Street Child was supporting 127 children from the
community, who had lost either one or both of their parents to the
virus. "The scene at the church was quite moving, with a sea of
people there to greet us and talk to us about what they had gone
through," Ms Brett said. "There was both despondency and shock,
sadness, trauma, and confusion."
The nearest hospital was too far away for anyone who became
infected to reach before they died, she said, and no government
officials or health workers had been able to travel to the town
before Street Child.
She had been inspired, she said, by young people in the area who
had taken it upon themselves to research the Ebola virus, largely
through their mobile phones, and then travelled through the town
teaching people how to protect themselves, and what to do if they
caught the disease.
The charity was providing trauma counselling as well as clothes
and food for children who had survived. After someone dies from the
virus, all his or her possessions are burned as a precaution, which
means that many of the orphans are left with nothing.
Once all the children have been rehomed with relatives or foster
families, they are invited by Street Child into its pre-existing
programmes, which provide small loans and business advice to help
poor families support themselves.
Ms Brett said that, although the world had acted quickly to help
Liberia, it had been too slow in its response to the humanitarian
disaster that the virus had caused.
On Wednesday, a new trial began in a Médicins Sans Frontières
(MSF) centre in Liberia to test a potential vaccine for the Ebola
virus, the antiviral drug Brincidofovir. The study is being led by
scientists from the University of Oxford. No successful vaccine has
yet been deployed, but Brincidofovir has proved effective against
Ebola-infected cells in the laboratory.
Church split over virus fears. A quarter of the
congregation of an Episcopal church in Washington, DC, stopped
attending services because they were afraid that some worshippers
might have the Ebola virus.
More than 20 nations, including some in West Africa, are
represented in the congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church, and
the Rector, Canon John Harmon, was born in Liberia. No one from the
church, however, had travelled to countries affected by the virus
since the outbreak began last year.
Canon Harmon told a local radio station that he had had an
"honest conversation" with the congregation, including asking
doctors present to explain how the Ebola virus was transmitted.
Most of the members of the congregation who left have now