Milan - An Italian doctor who has been working in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus and is being transferred to Rome for treatment, the health ministry said Monday. It is Italy's first confirmed case of Ebola.
The doctor, who was not identified and who works for the non-governmental organization Emergency, is scheduled to arrive overnight in Italy for treatment at the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome.
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Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said in a statement that the doctor experienced a fever and other symptoms overnight, but he was well enough to eat breakfast and drink beverages. The ministry said all measures are being taken to ensure the safe transport of the patient following biohazard protocols.
Emergency, which is operating a center for Ebola treatment in Lakka, Sierra Leone, said in statement that the doctor was in good condition, and that its staff in the country is following protocols aimed at avoiding contagion. "Nonetheless, no health intervention of such a serious epidemic can be considered completely without risks," Emergency said.
It noted that the epidemic in Sierra Leone is continuing to spread, with more than 100 new cases a day for an official total of 5,000 people infected in the country — although the number could be much higher.