Heathrow Airport begins Ebola screening

14 October 2014 (Last Updated October 14th, 2014 18:30)

With the UK Department of Health expecting a 'handful' of Ebola cases to reach the country before Christmas, Heathrow Airport has started screening passengers entering the UK from countries at risk.

heathrow

With the UK Department of Health expecting a 'handful' of Ebola cases to reach the country before Christmas, Heathrow Airport has started screening passengers entering the UK from countries at risk.

While the screening procedure is currently being carried out on Terminal 1, the airport will extend the screenings to other terminals by the end of this week.

The UK Department of Health estimates that 85% of all arrivals to the UK from affected countries will come through Heathrow.

Passenger temperatures will be checked as a part of the procedure. They will also have to fill in a risk questionnaire on arrival.

"We will be learning from the experience today and over coming days as to how it is working."

BBC quoted Public Health England director Paul Cosford as saying: "This is a set-up process. We will be learning from the experience today and over coming days as to how it is working.

"The principle benefit is about distributing information to people about how to contact, the symptoms to look out for, and who to contact in the event that they do get symptoms when they are in this country."

Cosford also said that the information being given out through leaflets and protocol about who to call if affected was as important as the screening.

He added though that the risk to the UK was low and the country's domestic health system was world-class and ready to respond.

Gatwick Airport and Eurostar will start the screening procedure by next week.

The screenings will cost the country around £9m over the next six months.

Both the US and UK have introduced measures to control the spread of the disease that has already killed 4,000 people in West Africa. High-risk passengers were sent to border control and passed on to health workers from Public Health England who then carried out the actual screening.


Image: Heathrow Airport has started screening passengers for Ebola symptoms. Photo: courtesy of Heathrow Airport.