OTTAWA -- Three Winnipeg scientists who had been helping battle the Ebola outbreak in Africa have returned home safely to Winnipeg without any signs of being sick, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported Friday.
The three arrived aboard a charter plane Friday. A quarantine officer who boarded the plane to assess their health determined they were showing no symptoms of Ebola.
They were then allowed to return to their homes where they are voluntarily quarantining themselves for up to three weeks, the incubation period for Ebola. Their health will be monitored during this period.
The scientists, part of a mobile lab team from the National Microbiology Lab on Arlington Street, had travelled to Sierra Leone to provide rapid diagnostics of Ebola and were recalled after three other health workers staying in the same hotel became ill.
This was the third team of scientists from Winnipeg sent to west Africa and PHAC plans to send another team as soon as the safety of workers can be ensured on the ground on Sierra Leone.
More than 3,000 people have contracted the deadly virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, and 1,552 have died. The World Health Organization reported Friday the outbreak is accelerating with about 40 per cent of the currently diagnosed cases occurring in the last three weeks.
The WHO said last week the total number of cases could hit 20,000 within the next nine months.
The disease has now spread to Senegal after an infected man travelled to the country, bringing its first confirmed case of Ebola.
The infected person, a university student from Guinea, sought treatment at a hospital in Senegal's capital, Dakar, on Tuesday, but gave no indication he might have Ebola, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters. The next day, an epidemiological surveillance team in Guinea alerted Senegalese authorities they had lost track of a person who had contact with sick people.
The student was tracked to the hospital in Dakar and was immediately quarantined, Seck said.
-- with files from the Canadian Press