Norwegian Ebola victim arrives in Oslo Gardermoen airport. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB scanpix
The Norwegian woman, diagnosed with Ebola while working for a charity organization in Sierra Leone, will arrive in Oslo for treatment on Tuesday.
The woman, who was working for Médecins Sans Frontières, fell ill at the weekend and was placed in isolation on Sunday. On Monday she was confirmed as having contracted Ebola and is scheduled to be flown into the country on a specially constructed private jet plane. The craft, normally used for business flights, is equipped to provide medical care for the patient and ensure the airborne virus is not spread beyond the infected invidual.
Secretary general for Médecins Sans Frontières, Anne Cecilie Kaltenborn, said at a press conference in Sierra Leone on Monday: “We regrettably confirm that one of our Norwegian field workers tested positively for Ebola. The person was on a mission in Sierra Leone, where Médecins Sans Frontières has 1,200 employees. 86 of those are international aid workers.”
“A blood sample was taken, and it showed that our colleague unfortunately was infected by Ebola, ” confirmed Kaltenborn.
The woman will be flown back to Norway where Norwegian health authorities will take over her treatment.
Kaltenborn said: “We are sure that our colleague will receive the best treatment available. We have kept in touch with our colleague and her family. We will continue to give them all the support we can give.”
Prime Minister Erna Solberg was quick to react and dispel public fears about a possible Ebola outbreak in Norway.
"The reason this disease spreads so quickly throughout West Africa is because these are countries without infrastructure and without good health services. Here in Norway we can handle this quickly," assured Solberg.
Cathrine Lofthus of Oslo University hospital who will receive the patient said at a press conference the hospital has been prepared for a long time if they were to receive a patient infected by Ebola and has strict procedures on dealing with high risk infections.
She said: “We have the competence, the facilities, the isolation room and equipment. We will take care of the patient and our staff in the best possible way and have competent, dedicated procedures in relation to the Ebola virus.”
Health director Bjørn Guldvog spoke also at the Monday press conference and said: “Norwegian health services are well prepared to treat patients with the Ebola virus.”
He added: “During the last months Oslo University hospital has trained especially on treating patients infected by Ebola. We believe the chance is small for the disease to spread infection in our country.”
Doctors at the hospital estimate it will be one to two weeks before they know whether an Ebola infected patient will survive or not. Experimental medicine could be used to treat the infected woman.
Dag Kvale at the infection medical ward at Oslo university hospital said: “In a week or two we will know a lot. That is normal. But in cases like these, we take it one hour at a time.”
“Ebola is a virus infecting the cells in the blood vessel walls and it becomes a blood vessel disease. Blood vessels are in all kinds of tissue, so potentially Ebola could infect all tissues [in the body],” Kvale explained.