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Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
10-15-2014, 11:40 PM
Post: #1
Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
UK to start fever tests for Ebola at Heathrow airport

New measure comes as health secretary Jeremy Hunt says it is likely that virus will be diagnosed in UK by end of year

Passengers will have their temperatures tested for suspected Ebola at Heathrow terminal one from Tuesday but it will be impossible to check all the 1,000 people a month arriving from the worst affected countries, the UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted.

Hunt said it was likely that Ebola would be diagnosed in the UK by the end of the year but the best estimates suggested there would probably be less than 10 cases over the next three months.

He estimated 89% of passengers to the UK from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea would be identified by screening at the border but the authorities are relying to some extent on travellers “self-presenting”.

As Hunt outlined measures to stop the virus coming to the UK, he faced questions from MPs about why there would be no screening of passengers who arrive through regional airports and why checks at Gatwick, Eurostar and other Heathrow terminals could not be brought in sooner.

The Immigration Services Union (ISU), representing some 5,000 UK border staff, also described the plans as a “missed opportunity”, saying all passengers should be screened for higher temperature as they departed the actual aircraft rather than at border control.

Lucy Moreton, ISU general secretary, said: “They are asking passengers who believe that they may have been in contact with an infected persons to self-refer. They have to present themselves to the Public Health England individual who is located behind the arrivals control, some 300 or 400 hundred metres behind and around a corner, not even immediately in line of sight. You have to actually go and seek them out.”

Ministers have so far spent £125m on emergency preparations and tackling the virus at its source in west Africa, where it has caused 4,033 deaths and more than 8,000 suspected cases. The UK government has sent 750 troops to Africa to help deal with containment, while more than 650 NHS staff and 130 Public Health England staff have volunteered to go out to Sierra Leone, where the British are taking a leading role in international aid efforts. So far, a Spanish nurse and Texas health care worker have contracted the disease outside Africa while caring for infected patients.

There are no direct flights to the UK from affected west African countries but there are indirect routes via mainland Europe. Last week, the government initially said there was no need for screening and then resisted the idea of temperature screening like that introduced in the US. However, Hunt told the House of Commons on Monday that a fever test would now be included, on top of a medical risk questionnaire.

“Passengers will have their temperature taken and complete a questionnaire asking about their current health, recent travel history and whether they might be at potential risk through contact with Ebola patients,” Hunt told MPs.

“They will also be required to provide contact details. If neither the questionnaire nor the temperature reading raises any concerns, passengers will be told how to make contact with the NHS should they develop Ebola symptoms within the 21-day incubation period, and allowed to continue on their journey. It is important to stress that a person with Ebola is only infectious if they are displaying symptoms.

“Any passenger who reports recent exposure to people who may have Ebola, or symptoms, or who has a raised temperature will undergo a clinical assessment and, if necessary, will be transferred to hospital.

“Passengers identified as having any level of increased risk of Ebola, but without any symptoms, will be given a Public Health England contact number to call should they develop any symptoms consistent with Ebola within the 21-day incubation period.”

Labour MP John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington seat includes Heathrow, questioned who would carry out the screening following the government’s decision to close the Heathrow’s health control unit earlier this year. Hunt insisted 200 staff would be ready to start conducting checks.

The health secretary said operators of the 111 medical helpline, GPs, nurses and NHS receptionists had all received information on how to identify the symptoms of Ebola, which include respiratory problems, high temperatures, diarrhoea and vomiting. In the UK, 26 beds have been made available at hospitals to deal with potential cases, including a specialist centre at the Royal Free in north London, and further capacity at Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, welcomed the preparations but criticised the government for its “confusion” last week over whether there would be screening at UK borders.

Hunt said the government modified its position after the advice from Dame Sally Davies, the UK chief medical officer, changed last week.

Over the weekend, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, warned there is little doubt a case of Ebola would come to the UK and would most probably be in London.

The London mayor also admitted that health checks at UK airports were a “far from perfect solution” and cautioned the government against seeming to “promise stuff that doesn’t really make any sense”.

Politicians across the world began to act after UN has raised the alarm that Ebola is spreading “exponentially” in west Africa and set a three-month deadline to get the deadly virus under control.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also warned the epidemic is the “most severe acute health emergency in modern times”. The WHO director-general, Margaret Chan, said the outbreak had shown “the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained, and threatening public health emergency”.

In a statement to a conference in the Philippine capital, Manila, she said: “I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.”


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10-15-2014, 11:43 PM
Post: #2
RE: Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
Ebola screening confusion on day one of new Heathrow airport measures

No 10 says tests are compulsory but health secretary says passengers from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone must volunteer

Passengers travelling to the UK from west Africa say they were not given automatic medical checks for Ebola, forcing Downing Street to defend its new screening regime on the first day of operation at Heathrow.

Labour urged Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to get a grip on the situation after there was confusion among travellers and officials about whether it was voluntary for people entering the UK from the worst affected regions to undergo temperature tests and medical checks.

On Monday, Hunt told MPs that border officials would have to rely to some extent on people noticing posters about Ebola in airports and presenting themselves to the authorities if they thought they were at risk.

This appeared to be the case at Heathrow’s Terminal 1, where some travellers expressed bemusement and even shock at the relatively low key nature of the measures, which will cost about £9m over the next six months.

A Sierra Leonean journalist who travelled via Brussels from Monrovia, Liberia, said passport control staff only realised where he had come from when he volunteered the information. Sorious Samura said: “I could have just come throughout without any screening. That is how scary it is.

“Our flight was met by an airport official saying we might be screened. He even shook our hands. That’s something nobody does now in Liberia and infected countries – you have to learn not to.

“Most of the people who had been on our flight from Liberia to Brussels didn’t go into the screening room, they just seemed to go through to customs and presumably out of the airport. I only filled in the questionnaire and went through the screening because I felt a sense of responsibility, having seen the effect of Ebola where I’ve been.”

Among others arriving at Heathrow was ReGina Jane Jere, who travels frequently between Africa and her home in London. She said she had noticed little discernible difference during her arrival – apart from the presence of a sign.

“I wasn’t stopped. I wasn’t asked any questions. I wasn’t asked where I had come from,” said Jere, who had travelled from Gambia via Dakar and Brussels.

“There was a hand sanitiser as you walk in and I did use it, and there is a sign which is not highly visible which says ‘medical check’, which I have not seen before, so at least there is a sign. I travelled to [the capital of Gambia] Banjul on Friday and as I walked into the airport terminal everyone was actually screened and somehow I felt really quite comfortable that I was screened and I was going into a country that was doing that.”

Public Health England said passengers on indirect flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone – the three west African countries at the centre of the outbreak – would be automatically flagged at passport control. They would then be escorted to a screening area, where their temperature would be taken and they would fill out forms asking if they had had contact with any Ebola patients, experienced any symptoms of the disease or visited a traditional healer or hospital.

Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director of Public Health England, said that screening would not be compulsory, but he expected passengers would agree to it for the sake of their own health.

“If they are not cooperative in coming for screening, it is an issue Border Force colleagues will look at,” said Cosford.

“There is public health legislation so we can take steps if we believe somebody is a risk to the public’s health and that can lead to them being treated in hospital for the public’s safety.”

However, David Cameron’s official spokesman appeared to contradict the idea that screening was not compulsory when pressed on whether the system was doing enough to catch passengers who are potentially at risk of the virus.

“They are required to go through the screening process,” he said. “We are taking what I would describe as a robust and proportionate approach to this, based on the very latest medical advice we get.”

Speaking on LBC 97.3 radio, Cameron later acknowledged that the screening would “never be perfect” and “we won’t catch everybody”.

Labour said it was worrying that just 24 hours after Hunt’s statement to the House of Commons there was confusion over the new screening programme.

“The fact that nobody in government seems to know whether the screening is voluntary or not will not build public confidence in the government’s handling of this situation. The government urgently needs to clarify its policy on screening to reassure the public that it has a grip.”

Dan O’Mahoney, chief of staff of the Border Force, said there were fewer than 1,000 passengers a month coming into the UK from the three countries.

“The vast majority come through Heathrow,” he said. “We don’t anticipate it will require additional staff. The numbers for Border Force are pretty modest.”


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10-15-2014, 11:44 PM
Post: #3
RE: Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
Cliff Notes: The new tests are compulsory for all plane travellers who enter Heathrow airport, except for people from the African countries that are known to have Ebola outbreaks.

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10-15-2014, 11:46 PM
Post: #4
RE: Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
I for one welcome our new zombiebola overlords.
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10-15-2014, 11:50 PM
Post: #5
RE: Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
[Image: 5a5458c03a0114c73354727448454633.jpg]

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10-16-2014, 12:41 AM
Post: #6
RE: Heathrow Airport screens passengers for Ebola
Not for nothing, but Heathrow Airport is one of the worst run in the world. That place is a disorganized mess.

I'm sure their Ebola screening will be a brilliant success, LOL!

come for the calo, stay for the yoshida brotha
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