Two American aid workers, both seriously ill after being infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, will be flown to the United States and treated in isolation at an Atlanta hospital, officials said on Friday.
A plane equipped to transport Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol can carry only one patient back at a time, and Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse said it did not know yet who would return first.
Both medical evacuations are due to be completed by early next week, said North Carolina-based Samaritan's Purse.
The patients will each arrive at Dobbins Air Reserve Base outside of Atlanta before being transported to a high-security isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, according to officials at the Pentagon and the hospital.
The facility, set up with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of only four in the country, is physically separate from other patient areas and provides a high level of clinical isolation.
Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, were part of a team from Samaritan's Purse and North Carolina-based missionary group SIM USA that was helping respond to the worst Ebola outbreak on record. More than 700 people in West Africa have died from the disease since February.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said the federal agency would help ensure there is no risk of the virus spreading as the workers are transported and would then assist Emory in the isolation of the patients.
"Ebola is a huge risk in Africa," Frieden told CNN. "It's not going to be a huge risk in the U.S."
Samaritan's Purse and SIM also said they were sending 60 other healthy staff and family members home to the United States from Liberia by this weekend.
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.