Ebola outbreak: Boris Johnson says virus will come to UK, and 'probably London'

Mayor of London concedes screening process at UK airports is 'far from perfect'

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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson has said he has “little doubt” that the deadly Ebola virus will come to the UK, and “probably” to London.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, the Mayor of London claimed the capital has “fantastic preparation” for cases of the virus, but admitted the current screening process in place at UK airports is “far from perfect”.

When asked if the UK should implement heat screening technology, which is being used in US airports to test the temperature of people’s blood for signs of a fever, Mr Johnson said: “We can’t go on blood temperature measures alone because you could, after all, be in the early stated of incubation of the virus and have two or three weeks to run.”

 

He added that it was not possible to blood test everybody coming into the country, but that people coming from the affected areas of West Africa should be “properly screened”.

Mayor Johnson said: “The idea of screening at airports is far from perfect as a solution, but what you need to do is make sure that people coming from the effected countries are properly screened, properly tested when they leave, and shouldn’t be allowed to leave if they’ve been in contact with people in one of the affected areas.

“I have little doubt that eventually there will be a case of Ebola in this country and probably in this city,” he added.

The UK’s chief medical officer has already warned Britain should expect “a handful” of Ebola cases in the next few months.

His comments came on the day that doctors, nurses, paramedics, and actors posing as patients with the virus took part in a simulation of an Ebola outbreak, ordered by David Cameron, to test the readiness of the NHS to deal with the deadly virus.

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NHS health workers and actors simulate the event of an Ebola outbreak in UK

David Cameron defended his decision to implement “enhanced screening” at major UK airports last week, saying it had been taken on “medical advice”, while experts criticised the move as “a complete waste of time”.

The Prime Minister’s announcement followed confusion over whether the Government would introduce the process at airports, amid conflicting messages from Chancellor George Osborne, the Department of Health, and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

Mr Cameron said on Thursday: "We are taking all the steps we can to keep our own people safe here in the UK.

"What we do is listen to medical advice and we act on that advice, and that's why we are introducing the screening processes at the appropriate ports and airports."

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