ROME (AFP) - A doctor who has become the first Italian to contract Ebola arrived in Rome Tuesday from Sierra Leone for specialist treatment in an infectious diseases hospital in the capital.
The doctor, a 50-year old from Sicily according to Italian media reports, was flown into the military airport of Pratica di Mare in a specially sealed unit and taken to the Lazzaro Spallanzani institute by ambulance.
The Italian health ministry was expected to hold a press conference later Tuesday with details of his condition.
The doctor, whose first name was reported to be Fabrizio, was working for the charity Emergency at a clinic for Ebola victims when he contracted the disease, which has killed nearly 5,500 people in its latest outbreak in west Africa.
He spoke to his daughters by telephone before landing in Rome, telling them "he was fine, not afraid, and sure he will pull through," Italian media reported his wife as saying.
He had travelled to Sierra Leone on October 18 and had been due to return to Italy on Friday, according to his wife, who told the Corriere della Sera daily that "he almost made it through" without catching the disease.
The doctor had been working with 25 other Italians - doctors, nurses and logicians - living together in three houses with small rooms and shared common spaces.
Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin was quick to reassure Italians, saying there was no chance of the virus spreading from within the special 16-room ward where the doctor will be treated by specialists, and the situation was "under control."
"The patient will not have any contact with doctors, or nurses. And especially not with the population. The Spallanzani hospital is a centre of excellence on a European level," she said in an interview with Il Messaggero daily.