Cuban doctor leaves Geneva after recovering from Ebola

A Liberian girl is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of Ebola in September Keystone

This content was published on December 6, 2014 minutes and agencies

A Cuban doctor treated for Ebola in a Geneva hospital has made a full recovery and has left Switzerland to be reunited with his family, the hospital said on Saturday. 

The 43-year-old man was one of 256 Cuban doctors and nurses who went to West Africa to treat patients from the worst outbreak of the virus on record, which has killed more than 6,000 people.  

He had arrived in Geneva on November 20 – having contracted the disease in Sierra Leone – and was taken by ambulance to Geneva University Hospital under police escort. He is so far the first Ebola patient to be treated in Switzerland. 

He was placed in a specially prepared negative pressure room in a building that is detached from the rest of the hospital and was treated by a specialist in infectious diseases. 

Soon after arriving in Geneva, he received the Canadian experimental treatment ZMab, a precursor to the Ebola drug ZMapp, which has been used to treat several US patients. 

“Two days later he was already much better,” said Geneva’s chief medical officer Jacques-André Romand, adding that the same drug had been sent to Rome to treat an Italian doctor battling the virus. 

At no time was there any risk of transmission to the local population, Romand said.

Return to Sierra Leone

In a brief meeting with journalists at Havana's international airport on Saturday, the doctor said he and his colleagues in Africa are committed to fighting the Ebola outbreak.

"I will return there to finish what I started," said the doctor, who was welcomed home by his wife and two sons.

The latest figures from the World Health OrganizationExternal link (WHO) show Ebola has killed nearly 6,200 people, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, since it was confirmed in the region earlier this year. 

Out of 138 health care workers who have caught the disease in Sierra Leone, 106 have died, a much higher fatality rate than among health care workers in neighbouring Guinea and Liberia, WHO data published on Wednesday showed. Two more doctors died in Sierra Leone on Friday, a government source said.

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