A woman was rushed to hospital and hundreds of people were quarantined today after she showed symptoms of Ebola virus infection in a jobcentre in Germany.
As many as 600 visitors and staff at the employment office building in Berlin were also stopped from leaving for several hours as emergency services sealed off part of the street.
The mass-circulation daily Bild said the woman had fainted, that she hailed from Nigeria and that she said later that she had recently been in contact with people infected with Ebola.
Several people who had been with the woman inside the building in the north-eastern district of Prenzlauer Berg were later taken to hospital for testing.
Berlin fire department spokesman Rolf Erbe said that because the patient came from ‘an area affected by a highly contagious disease, we took these precautions.’
He said the testing in the city’s Charite hospital would take some time. ‘The patient was isolated inside the ambulance, the staff took the appropriate protective measures. An emergency medic, the public health officer, arrived and the necessary precautions were taken,’ he added.
The woman had turned up at the employment bureau with a high fever. A spokesman for the city’s health authority said emergency services were called after the woman collapsed.
All 600 people quarantined within the centre were in the suspected victim’s vicinity before she collapsed. West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, which has hit four nations since it broke out in Guinea early this year, is by far the deadliest since the virus was discovered four decades ago in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The World Health Organization said today the Ebola virus had killed 84 people in just three days, bringing the global death toll to 1,229, while confirmed, probable and suspect infections rose to 2,240. The outbreak is not yet under control, the UN health agency said, although there have been no confirmed cases of the disease spreading beyond the region at its centre.
A spokesman said: ‘As recent experience shows, progress is fragile, with a real risk that the outbreak could experience another flare-up. ‘A case in a previously unaffected area was reported last week, indicating continuing spread to new areas.
European countries have been taking precautions against a possible spread, with Berlin’s Charite hospital, where the woman showing symptoms was taken today, last week holding a photocall for the media to publicise its readiness.