An aid worker infected with the deadly Ebola virus while in Liberia has arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in the US state of Georgia from West Africa.
Doctor Kent Brantly landed shortly before noon (16:00 GMT) on Saturday aboard a private air ambulance and was whisked to a state-of-the-art hospital isolation unit.
Brantly, the country’s first Ebola patient, is one of two US aid workers infected with the virus as they helped to battle an outbreak that has claimed more than 700 lives in West Africa since March.
Wearing a biohazard suit, Brantly was driven by ambulance, with police escort, to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment in a specially equipped room.
Television news footage showed three people in white biohazard suits stepping out of the ambulance. Two of them
walked into the hospital, one seeming to lean on the other for support.
A hospital spokesman confirmed that Brantly walked into the building under his own power, the Reuters news agency reported.
Dr Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, said he could not comment on a treatment plan until Brantly had been evaluated.
Since there is no known cure, standard procedures are to provide hydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids, according to the World Health Organisation.
Brantly, a 33-year-old father of two young children, works for the North Carolina-based Christian organisation Samaritan’s Purse.
A second infected member of the group, missionary Nancy Writebol who is a 59-year-old mother of two, will be brought to the US on a later flight, as the medical aircraft is equipped to carry only one patient at a time.
‘Thankful to God’
“It was a relief to welcome Kent home today. I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the US,” Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a written statement.
“I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital.
“Please continue praying for Kent and Nancy, and please continue praying for the people of Liberia and those who continue to serve them there.”
Liberia is one of the three West Africa countries hit by the largest Ebola outbreak in history, the AP news agency reported.
Despite concern among some in the United States over bringing Ebola patients to the country, health officials have
said there is no risk to the public.
The facility at Emory, set up with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, is one of only four in the
country with the facilities to deal with such cases.
Ebola is a haemorrhagic virus with a death rate of up to 90 percent of those who become infected; the fatality rate in the current epidemic is about 60 percent.
The patients will be able to see loved ones through a plate-glass window and speak to them by phone or intercom.