Hopes rise for Norway’s ebola patient

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Doctors at Oslo University Hospital Ullevål said late Monday that the Norwegian woman who contracted the ebola virus while working as a doctor in Sierra Leone “is showing signs of improvement.” Norway, meanwhile, plans to send more health care workers to West Africa to fight the deadly virus.

Less than a week after she was flown back to Oslo in a specially equipped air ambulance, the 32-year-old doctor working for Leger Uten Grenser (Medecins Sans Frontieres) seemed to be responding to treatment at Ullevål. Doctors have been sparse with reports on her condition, at the request of her family, but seemed clearly relieved that they finally could report some good news.

‘Optimistic’
“The Norwegian woman is stable and is showing signs of improvement,” Dr Dag Kvale, a professor of medicine and leader of the infectious disease department at Ullevål, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after a press conference Monday afternoon. “Our personnel are full of encouragement and optimism. What we’d been training for, is functioning in practice.”

It’s still too early to determine whether she’ll recover, but he said that it was a good sign that the patient was showing signs of improvement after just six days of treatment. They had expected it would take at least one to two weeks before seeing any change in her condition.

“We received offers of experimental treatment,” Kvale told NRK. “It’s difficult to say anything about the effect of these treatments, therefore we don’t want to reveal any more information today.”

‘Full control’
News from the US and Spain of health care workers being infected with the virus after treating ebola patients prompted doctors at Ullevål to claim that the hospital has strict and detailed routines to prevent the deadly virus from slipping out of the hospital. Health care workers are also said to be under constant watch.

“If our workers wake up with symptoms, they have systems for fast clarification,” Kvale said. “The employees have contact people available around the clock. We have a solid system for this.” Administrators at Ullevål claimed they had “full control of the highly contagious isolation ward,” with all protective garments disinfected on the outside before being taken off, and specially trained personnel also monitoring procedures for putting on and taking off the garments.

As reported last week, there’s no shortage of Norwegian health care personnel willing to travel to West Africa to help treat ebola patients and try to contain the epidemic. State Health Director Bjørn Guldvog said that more than 160 volunteers had already signed up to work in West Africa, possibly attached to a British medial mission. The Norwegian government has also pledged millions more to help fight ebola in West Africa.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund