Will Ebola reach the UK? Screening to begin at Manchester and Birmingham airports to prevent spread

 
Sarah Spickernell
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People travelling from the affected countries in west Africa will be screened (Source: Getty)
Ebola screening is to take place at Birmingham and Manchester airports, according to Public Health England.
Passengers arriving from the affected countries in west Africa will be screened for the deadly virus, which has already killed more than 4,500 people according to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates.
Screening at the two airports will start once it has been successfully implemented at Gatwick airport and Kings Cross St. Pancras station next week. Screening at Heathrow began on Tuesday this week.
During a commons' debate, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the new measures would be introduced because of the “deteriorating” situation in West Africa.
He added that, once in place, they would reach 89 per cent of travellers arriving from the region. A “handful” of cases could still be expected in the UK before Christmas, however.
“The advice is that having no screening procedures at those airports is proportionate to the risk now, but we are taking this precautionary approach, starting with Heathrow,” he said.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, described the task of introducing screening at Heathrow as “phenomenal”. In a weekly message to staff he said that once the existing measures covering Heathrow, Gatwick and the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras had "settled", they would be rolled out to other ports of entry.
It is not only the UK that is taking this precaution – Canada and the US have also increased screening measures for those arriving from west African nations.
From Saturday, France will screen those arriving at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport from Guinea's capital Conakr.

WHAT THE SCREENING INVOLVES

Actual screening will be carried out by nurses and consultants from Public Health England. They will conduct questionnaires with travellers arriving from high risk countries to find out about their health and any previous exposure they have had to the disease. They will also take their temperature and record contact details.
Anyone showing symptoms of the disease, which include a fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding, will be taken to hospital.
There, they will have blood samples taken and tested at Public Health England's specialist laboratory for rapid testing. If results are positive, the infected person will be transferred to a hospital isolation unit for treatment.
If someone does not show symptoms of the disease but has been in a position where they could have contracted the virus, they will be screened and closely monitored for 21 days, since this is the disease's incubation period.

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