UK

Ebola Screening For Travellers Arriving In The UK Through Heathrow And Gatwick

09/10/2014 17:53 BST | Updated 09/10/2014 17:59 BST

Travellers entering the UK will be screened for Ebola, Downing Street has said, despite it previously claiming that testing would be ineffective and and impractical.

The government confirmed that enhanced screening for Ebola will be introduced at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar terminals following advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

The checks will be introduced for passengers travelling from the affected regions - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - to give Britain an additional level of protection from the deadly virus.

heathrow

Heathrow will now screen incoming passengers for Ebola

The tests will involve assessing passengers' recent travel history, who they have been in contact with and onward travel arrangements as well as a possible medical assessment conducted by trained medical personnel.

Another test for Ebola - although not confirmed to be planned by the Government - is heat scanners which detect whether someone has an unusually high body temperature and may be suffering from the virus.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "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.

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"Further screening has been kept under review throughout this period and advice from the Chief Medical Officer today is that enhanced screening arrangements at the UK's main ports of entry for people travelling from the affected regions - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - will offer an additional level of protection to the UK.

"Enhanced screening will initially be implemented at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar terminals and will involve assessing passengers' recent travel history, 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.

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"As the Chief Medical Officer's advice makes clear, these measures will help to improve our ability to detect and isolate Ebola cases. However, it is important to stress that given the nature of this disease, no system could offer 100% protection from non-symptomatic cases.

"It is important to remember that the overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low, and the UK has some of the best public health protection systems in the world with well-developed and well-tested systems for managing infectious diseases when they arise.

"Contingency planning is also under way including a national exercise and wider resilience training to ensure the UK is fully prepared."