GOAL: Ireland has little to fear from Ebola

A senior member of aid agency GOAL says people in Ireland have very little to fear from Ebola, after earlier media reports of a suspected case in Dublin.

The HSE has said there are no confirmed, or suspected, cases of Ebola in Ireland. It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) says it believes the outbreak is worse than had been thought.

It had been reported this morning that a patient suspected of contracting Ebola was to be transferred to the National Isolation Unit in Dublin’s Mater Hospital.

GOAL's Darren Hannify, who has just returned from Sierra Leone, says there is very little chance of a major outbreak in Ireland.

He said: "The Irish Health system are preparing for the potential of a case or two, but that is so unlikely to manifest in an outbreak in Ireland."

WHO staff working in west Africa have seen evidence that the number of reported cases and deaths are significantly underestimated.

Official figures show the disease has killed 1,069 people, with almost 2,000 confirmed or suspected cases.

The majority of the cases have occurred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Four deaths have also been reported in Nigeria.

But the WHO said there was evidence that the number of reported cases underestimated the scale of the suffering. The organisation also says it is planning for a long-term outbreak.

"The outbreak is expected to continue for some time. WHO's operational response plan extends over the next several months," it said in a statement.

"Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

The HSE said last month it has been preparing for a potential Ebola outbreak in Ireland "for a long time".

Although the risk is very low, two rounds of guidance have been issued to doctors and healthcare professionals since 2002.

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