Third aid worker from Sweden in Ebola scare

The Local Sweden
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Third aid worker from Sweden in Ebola scare
Aid workers in Sierra Leone in October. Photo: TT

A Swedish aid worker is being prepped to return home after a potential Ebola contamination in West Africa, the third to be recalled from the region where the deadly virus is still spreading.


The Red Cross aid worker, whose identity is being protected for her privacy, is understood to have been exposed to a potential risk of contamination in Sierra Leone on Wednesday afternoon.
"The aid worker took off her security gear for a brief moment and it's at that instant that a contamination may have taken place," Red Cross press officer Erik Halkjaer told The Local on Thursday.
He emphasized that protocol calls for full precautionary measures and noted that the incident of the aid worker was a "long way from actually contracting Ebola" and said she was not currently showing any symptoms of the virus.
However it can take up to 48 hours for symptoms to become clear.
Halkjaer said that the improper removal of "security clothes" is the most common way in which aid workers treating Ebola patients are put at risk. 
This is the third time in recent months that a Swedish aid worker has been evacuated from West Africa due to potential contamination. The most high profile was in early January, when a nurse who worked with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) in Sierra Leone returned to Sweden
Following the latest case,  Halkjaer said: "We take a person out of work, and bring the person to a hospital in their own country, that is our protocol."
The aid worker is still currently in Sierra Leona, pending administrative tasks, but will be flown back to Sweden as soon as possible.
The total incubation monitoring period, for people who may have potentially contracted Ebola is three weeks.
"During this time, it's better to be close to home," added Halkjaer.
Five other Swedish Red Cross aid workers are currently still assisting in Sierra Leone.
There have been a handful of Ebola scares within Sweden since the virus started to spread last year, but as yet no Swedes have contracted it. 
Sweden has donated 550 million kronor ($69 million) in the fight against the deadly virus.
The World Health Organization reports that the disease has claimed 7,500 lives so far - the vast majority in western Africa. The current Ebola epidemic - the most widespread in history - began in Guinea in December 2013 and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, with a 70 percent fatality rate. 


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