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A British nurse who contracted the Ebola virus while working in West Africa is now in a “critical” condition, the London hospital where she is being treated said Saturday.

“The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is sorry to announce that the condition of Pauline Cafferkey has gradually deteriorated over the past two days and is now critical," it said in a statement.

Related:Ebola diagnosed in medical worker in Britain: Official

Cafferkey was diagnosed with the virus shortly after she returned to Britain on December 28 from Sierra Leone, where she had been working as a volunteer nurse at a British-built treatment centre.

She was transferred to the Royal Free London, which has the only isolation ward in Britain equipped for Ebola patients.

The 39-year-old, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola on British soil, is being treated with an experimental antiviral drug and with plasma from a recovered patient containing Ebola-fighting antibodies.

On Wednesday, doctors had said the nurse was sitting up in bed, reading and talking to staff from inside her isolation tent in the hospital.

Dr Michael Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the Royal Free London, had warned at the time that "Ebola runs a very variable course and the next few days are going to be very critical".

Cafferkey is the second person to be treated for Ebola in Britain after fellow British volunteer nurse William Pooley, who also contracted the disease in Sierra Leone.

Pooley made a full recovery and has since returned to the West African state, one of the worst-hit by the Ebola outbreak that has so far killed close to 8,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.


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