A SICK prisoner feared to be carrying the deadly Ebola virus sparked a full-scale alert.
The 20-year-old man – a suspected illegal immigrant from Eritrea – became ill at Waterlooville police station yesterday.
Staff decided at about 8am that the cells should be quarantined as a precaution until they knew what illness he was suffering from.
The area was put in lockdown with no-one allowed to enter or leave the area – where people arrested are held – for four hours.
Staff called South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) in line with force procedure.
One concerned resident, who does not want to be named, said: ‘I was supposed to go in to the police station as an appropriate adult.
‘I was informed that several people were arrested from Africa and they had been detained in Waterlooville police station and there was a possible risk of Ebola.’
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said the decision custody staff made was based on the information they had available at the time.
Police drafted in an interpreter to help medics, who established that the man does not have the Ebola virus.
Details of what illness he is suffering from have not been revealed.
The spokeswoman said: ‘A detained man became ill while in custody.
‘His illness was reported to staff just after 8am on Wednesday.
‘The man was initially examined in the custody suite and taken to hospital for further treatment.
‘The custody suite was closed as a precaution until it could be established what illness the man was suffering from.
‘The 20-year-old man from Eritrea was arrested on the A3 at Clanfield on suspicion of immigration offences.’
The suspect is among five men arrested on the A3 at Clanfield on Tuesday night.
The other four men, from Ethiopia and Eritrea and aged 20, 21, 24 and 25, were held on suspicion of immigration offences.
Eritrea and Ethiopia are in east Africa, and are not affected by the current Ebola outbreak, which has claimed almost 1,500 lives in west Africa.
Countries affected by the current outbreak include Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.
A Scas spokeswoman added: ‘We were called at 8.06am to Swiss Road in Waterlooville to reports of a person suffering a medical emergency.
‘We sent an ambulance crew and an ambulance officer and one patient was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital for treatment.’
Virus symptoms can be treated but there is no cure
EBOLA is a deadly virus for which there is no vaccine or cure.
But with treatment and proper hydration, patients have a chance of survival.
The virus is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bodily fluids and symptoms can include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage.
Volunteer nurse William Pooley, 29, of Eyke, Suffolk, is the first Briton to contract Ebola during this outbreak after being exposed to it while working with patients in Sierra Leone.
He returned to the UK on Sunday and is being kept in a special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He has been given the experimental drug ZMapp.