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British airports to introduce Ebola screening

Downing Street confirmed the move today in a bid to help stop the deadly virus from spreading,

Ebola screening in an Moroccan airport
Ebola screening in an Moroccan airport
Image: AP/Press Association Images

DOWNING STREET HAS confirmed that travellers arriving at UK airports and Eurostar terminals from countries affected by Ebola will be screened for the deadly virus.

A spokesperson said that the UK “is continuing to monitor the outbreak of Ebola closely, including the protection of the UK against people travelling here who may be infected”.

Airport screening at airports in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has been in place for some weeks to ensure all passengers leaving affected countries are checked.

In a statement released this evening, the British government said: “Enhanced screening will initially be implemented at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar terminals and will involve assessing passengers’ recent travel history.”

The screening will also check who they have been in contact with and onward travel arrangements as well as a possible medical assessment, conducted by trained medical personnel rather than Border Force staff.

Passengers will also be given advice on what to do should they develop symptoms later.

Keith Vaz, head of the parliament’s home affairs select committee, said: “I think targeted screening would help and if it discovers just one case it would make a huge difference.

The announcement follows public pressure in the wake of the Ebola case in Spain.

Spanish nurse

The Spanish infected with Ebola is at “serious risk” of dying from the disease after her condition worsened today, officials have said.

Teresa Romero helped treat two elderly Spanish missionaries who died after returning from west Africa with Ebola in August and September. She tested positive for the disease on Monday.

Madrid regional president Ignacio Gonzalez told parliament that the woman is “at this time very ill and her life is at serious risk as a consequence of the virus”.

A spokeswoman for the La Paz-Carlos III hospital where Romero is being treated told reporters earlier: “Her clinical situation has deteriorated but I can’t provide more information,” because of the express wishes of the patient.

High alert

The world is on high alert amid fears that the worst epidemic of Ebola in history could spread from west Africa, where it began late last year. It has killed nearly 3,900 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

A number of media outlets have been reporting that a British man died from suspected Ebola in Macedonia. However, local media is reporting that this is not the case. Czech media has also been reporting that a man was hospitalised due to suspected Ebola in Prague.

Earlier today Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said that AIDS is the only thing he has seen in his 30 years of experience that is comparable to Ebola.

Additional reporting: AFP

Read: Ebola: Government task force meets as Taoiseach says outbreak is of “gravest concern”

Read: WHO says Ebola is “unavoidable” in Europe as three more isolated in Spain

Read: Spanish nurse tests positive for Ebola in first infection to take place outside Africa

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Órla Ryan

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