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Games Ebola safeguards stepped up

HEALTH experts have stepped up efforts against the deadly Ebola virus arriving in Scotland with the Commonwealth Games, amid a worsening outbreak in one of the competitor countries.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Health Protection Scotland have instituted "daily monitoring" of the disease as it spreads through west Africa and established links with international medical colleagues in case infection arrives.

Sierra Leone is expected to send 28 athletes and eight officials to Glasgow this month. The country is in the grip of Africa's biggest outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD), which kills up to 90% of those infected, and which has no known cure of vaccine.

Recently around 340 people have been infected in Sierra Leone and 142 have died. Fatalities have risen fourfold in the last month.

Last month, Health Protection Scotland said it would be monitoring Twitter for people reporting similar symptoms during the Games, which run from July 23 to August 3, principally to identify outbreaks of flu, the norovirus vomiting bug and food poisoning. But NHS staff have also been warned to look out for viral haemorrhagic fevers, such as Ebola.

The Brownlee Centre for Infectious and Communicable Diseases at Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital has been identified as the receiver facility for any suspected Ebola cases.

Ebola is one of four rare viral haemorrhagic fevers which can spread person-to-person through direct contact with blood, bodily fluids or contaminated needles.

It can take up to three weeks from infection to the onset of symptoms, which include diarrhoea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding.

Games organisers Glasgow 2014, Health Protection Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said delegates from Sierra Leone would not be treated any differently from other athletes.

In a joint statement, they said: "Based on current advice from the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, we estimate that the risk of a visitor coming from Sierra Leone to Scotland with EVD remains very low.

"Nevertheless, we are monitoring the situation on a daily basis."

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