Ebola screening to begin at Heathrow Airport tomorrow

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Ebola screening will begin at London’s Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. Gatwick and Eurostar terminals will follow by the end of the week.

The BBC reports:- ‘Passengers from at-risk countries will have their temperature taken, complete a risk questionnaire and have contact details recorded.

Mr Hunt said screening at Gatwick and Eurostar terminals would start in the coming week.

The Chief Medical Officer says the risk to the UK is low, but expects a “handful” of cases.

Mr Hunt said it was “genuinely very difficult” to predict an exact number of cases, but said the expected figure for the next three months was not in double figures.

In September, around 1,000 people arrived in the UK from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

Entry screening:

Screening at Heathrow Terminal 1 will begin on Tuesday, before being extended to other terminals at the airport as well as Gatwick and Eurostar. The Department of Health estimates that 85% of all arrivals to the UK from affected countries will come through Heathrow.

Border Force officers will identify passengers to be screened. Nurses and consultants from Public Health England will carry out the testing.

Anyone with suspected Ebola will be taken to hospital.

Passengers deemed at high-risk due to contact with Ebola patients, but with no symptoms, will be contacted daily by Public Health England.

A spokesman for Heathrow said the welfare of “our passengers and colleagues is always our main priority”.

He added: “We would like to reassure passengers that the Government assesses the risk of a traveller contracting Ebola to be low.”

There is no direct flight from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea so people could arrive at airports that do not screen passengers.

“Highly visible information” will be in place at all entry points to the UK, Mr Hunt insisted.’

However, the screening has come in for criticism from some quarters, as incoming passengers may not yet display symptoms of Ebola when they are being tested reports the Guardian

Niamh Harris
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