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UK Border Staff ‘Unprepared’ For Ebola

  • UK Border Staff 'Unprepared' For Ebola
  • UK Border Staff ‘Unprepared’ For Ebola

News Desk: Border, customs and immigration staff feel unprepared to deal with people arriving in Britain who may be carrying the deadly ebola virus, a union leader has warned.The virus – which has no vaccine and a fatality rate of up to 90% – has now killed nearly 700 people in West Africa, and it is feared it could be spread around the world by infected air passengers.Public Health England has warned health officials to be on the lookout for any unexplained illness in people returning from affected countries.But Immigration Service Union general secretary Lucy Moreton said members are “very concerned” about their personal safety and are not sure what to do if they think someone is infected.

“They serve on the front line; they are the first point of contact usually for people coming off an aircraft and the concern is what do they do if they’re confronted with someone that doesn’t appear well who appears at the border,” she told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme.

“There is no health facility at the border, there is no containment facility and until extremely recently there has been no guidance issued to staff at all as to what they should do.”

Ms Moreton said members had been contacting the union for guidance on what to do and how to protect themselves, but it had no answers for them.

There have been concerns the disease could spread to the UK after it emerged two people have been assessed for the virus in Britain.

A man was given the all-clear following tests in Birmingham after he travelled from Benin in Nigeria, while doctors ruled out the need for an ebola test on a second male in west London.

The Government’s emergencies committee Cobra met to discuss the situation on Wednesday.

Afterwards, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it is “most unlikely” the disease could spread in the UK.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force has a well-established plan to deal with different scenarios including infectious diseases and we work closely with partners like NHS England to minimise any affect on passengers and staff.”

Meanwhile, two US volunteers have been placed in isolation amid fears they could have contracted the virus in West Africa.

The pair – working for America’s Peace Corps movement  – have not displayed symptoms but are under observation after coming into contact with an Ebola sufferer, who later died.

The Peace Corps said it was evacuating 340 volunteers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the three countries worst affected in the outbreak.

:: Special Correspondent Alex Crawford, who covers Africa for Sky News, answers your questions on the ebola crisis.


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