Cuban doctor contracts Ebola in Sierra Leone

Felix Baez is the first to contract virus, out of 165-member medical team deployed by island nation to Sierra Leone.

Cuba has won global praise for sending at least 256 medical workers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea [AFP]
Cuba has won global praise for sending at least 256 medical workers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea [AFP]

A member of the 165-member Cuban medical team sent to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with the disease, and will be sent to Geneva for treatment, Cuban state media reported.

Felix Baez, an internal medicine specialist, came down with a fever of more than 100 degrees on Sunday and tested positive on Monday, the official website Cubadebate reported on Tuesday, citing a Health Ministry statement. He has not shown complications and his condition is “stable”, the statement said.

“Our collaborator is being tended to by a team of British professionals with experience in treating patients who have displayed the disease and they have maintained constant communication with our brigade,” the statement said.

The World Health Organisation decided to transport Baez to a university hospital in Geneva, the statement said.

The agency said last week that 5,177 people had died of Ebola across eight countries, out of 14,413 cases of infection that have emerged since December 2013.

Baez is one of 256 Cuban doctors and nurses in West Africa treating Ebola patients, a commitment that has won international praise as more substantial than contributions from many wealthy countries.

Some Cuban 165 doctors and nurses have gone to Sierra Leone for a six-month mission, with another 53 in Liberia and 38 in Guinea.

Cuban officials have emphasised the medics’ high state of readiness for the mission, saying the doctors, nurses and support staff received weeks of instruction in protective measures and equipment.

Once in Africa, the Cubans got two to three weeks of additional training before heading into the field. They were to be quarantined in Africa for weeks at the end of their six-month mission before returning to Cuba.

Cuban officials did not immediately release any other information about the case, the first reported among the health workers the island sent to Africa as part of a half-century-old strategy that puts doctors on the front lines of the country’s foreign policy.

Source : AP

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