DOCTORS in the North were last night testing a patient in Belfast for Ebola in the third such scare in Ireland since the outbreak in Africa.
The patient, who had recently travelled in West Africa, has been in an isolation unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital since Friday.
The North's Public Health Agency said the patient is being assessed in accordance with risk-management procedures.
"It is important to note that the likelihood of contracting Ebola is extremely low unless the person had come into contact with blood or body fluids of a symptomatic person.
"Therefore, we would like to stress that the risk to the public is low," a statement said.
It is the third such Ebola scare in Ireland, while almost 5,000 people have died in Africa since the start of the crisis at the end of last year.
In August, tests were carried out on the body of a Donegal man who died after returning from a trip to Sierra Leone with the Ebola virus being ruled out on that occasion.
Last month, there was a scare in Dublin when a woman from Tyrellstown complained of Ebola-like symptoms.
The woman was moved to the Mater hospital's isolation unit where surrounding roads were closed. Subsequent tests revealed that she had not contracted the lethal virus.
The HSE last night said the overall risk of a case of Ebola being imported into Ireland is low.
Plans currently in place will not change now that a patient is being monitored in Northern Ireland, it added.
Meanwhile, Dr John Lambert, head of the National Isolation Unit at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, said that if the worst happened the "most likely scenario" is that a healthcare worker will return with the killer virus.
But he insisted our medical protocols and contingency plans are "robust enough" to cope with such a possibility.
He said over the next six months there's a "fifty-fifty chance" the Isolation Unit will be managing a patient with suspected, or confirmed Ebola.