A hospital isolation room. Photo: APA/HELMUT FOHRINGER
A young Liberian refugee who made an epic voyage to Austria after his entire family died - apparently from Ebola - has been isolated in the Salzburg Regional Hospital for observation.
Late in the afternoon on Monday, the Salzburg Regional Hospital enabled the existing contingency plan for a suspected case of Ebola for the first time.
A young refugee from Liberia had been housed in Flachgau, and since Liberia is a country affected by Ebola, he was admitted for evaluation in the provincial hospital, according to regional health officer Christian Stöckl (ÖVP).
"It is absolutely too early to speak of a suspected case. The patient must first be thoroughly examined for possible symptoms. Nevertheless, the emergency plan has been activated as a precaution. The case is being dealt with as a suspected case."
The probability that the young man has been infected with Ebola is small, but the measures were taken in order to be fully prepared.
"The crisis team has formed in a short time and will advise on the next steps, resulting from the initial examination of the patient," said Stöckl.
The young refugee from Liberia stated in an initial survey that two months ago in Liberia his entire family had fallen ill and died from Ebola. This was announced by the Information Centre of the city of Salzburg on Monday evening.
He had looked after his relatives until the end, and buried them after their deaths, the young man is reported to have said. Out of fear of catching the illness, he fled to Europe, where he eventually arrived in Austria after passing through Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. The length of his sea voyage was not clear.
Based on the described situation the refugee was deemed as a person who had been exposed to a high risk, health authorities said in a press release.
"Although from an official viewpoint currently the likelihood of an acute Ebola outbreak is estimated as rather low (the incubation period for the Ebola disease from the time of infection is two to 21 days), all necessary precautions were triggered according to the Ebola Emergency Plan.
The young man is being observed in an isolation ward. We are working to trace all the persons he came into contact with."