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Matheson: Ebola outbreak risk 'very low'

Scotland's health boards stand ready to respond to any suspected cases of the Ebola virus, although the risk to the country remains "very low", Health Minister Michael Matheson has said.

More than 1,000 people have died so far from the outbreak of the disease in West Africa, according to the World Health Organisation, while authorities have recorded 1,848 suspected or confirmed cases.

The virus was detected in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and possibly Nigeria.

There have been no cases in Scotland or the rest of the UK.

Mr Matheson told MSPs at Holyrood: "Scotland has well developed procedures in place to respond to this type of situation.

"The NHS in Scotland safely managed a case of viral haemorrhagic fever in a patient in Glasgow in 2012, and our recent experience of the Commonwealth Games further strengthened these procedures.

"As a result, we are better placed than many other parts of the UK to respond to suspected cases of Ebola virus."

He said the Scottish Government was liaising with other governments of the UK, while updated guidance has been sent to border agency staff.

Health Protection Scotland is producing a poster to be displayed in airports and ports advising travellers who are going to affected areas, Mr Matheson added.

"Professional guidance has been updated and revised, and GPs and other healthcare workers have been notified to be extra vigilant when dealing with patients who have recently travelled to the affected areas," he said.

Meanwhile, all NHS boards have confirmed they have arrangements in place to deal with any suspected cases of Ebola, and a short-life working group has been set up with relevant agencies to discuss any further steps.

"I am confident that the risk to the people of Scotland remains very low, and the NHS stands ready to respond to any suspected cases of Ebola," Mr Matheson said.

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