The U.K. government called an emergency meeting Wednesday before announcing that Britain has the expertise and resources to deal with the ebola virus should it break out there, TheGuardian reports.
A man was tested for Ebola in Britain this week but tested negative. The Department of Health said he was checked in Birmingham after traveling from Benin to Nigeria via Paris.
Another man contacted Charing Cross Hospital in London fearing he had the virus, but doctors ruled it out.
U.K. health professionals have been warned to be vigilant for signs of the virus. Border officials and airport staff have been briefed on the symptoms. Doctors were issued an urgent warning after an infected man took several flights from Liberia to Nigeria, where he died.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the virus, which has killed more than 600
people in West Africa, was containable.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain had experienced doctors who could deal with infectious diseases: “We are looking at our capability but we are very confident that we have very good people in the (National Health Service), very experienced
people, who will be ready to deal with anything if it were to arrive in the U.K.”
The European commission on Wednesday said it would allocate additional funds to help contain the spread of the disease. “The level of contamination on the ground is extremely worrying and we need to scale up our action before many more lives are lost,” said Kristalina Georgieva, E.U. commissioner for humanitarian aid.
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Sir Mark Walport, chief scientific adviser to the government, said it’s important to be prepared. “The government is keeping a close eye on the outbreak and we are well prepared,” he said. “No cases of imported Ebola have ever been reported in the U.K. The risk to a traveller going to west Africa of contracting Ebola is very low but the chief medical officer has alerted medical practitioners about the situation in West Africa and requested they remain vigilant for unexplained illness in those who have visited the affected area.”
In an interview published in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph, Walport said the disease was “potentially a major threat” to the U.K. because of the increasingly “interconnected” nature of the world, TheGuardian reports.
He told the paper: “The most dangerous infections of humans have always been those which have emerged from other species,” Walport said. “They are a potential major threat to us. Emerging infectious disease is a global grand challenge.
“We were lucky with Sars. But we have to do the best horizon scanning. We have to think about risk and managing risk appropriately.
Health workers in West Africa have been especially vulnerable to the disease. Two American health workers – a doctor and a missionary – are also in hospital in neighbouring Liberia after contracting the disease, prompting two U.S. missionary groups to evacuate non-essential personnel from the country.
Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, who was treating patients in Sierra Leone, died Tuesday after being quarantined in hospital in the country.
The pan-African airline Asky suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the Liberian Football Association said it halted all activities in the country.
Ebola is believed to have killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in February, according to the WHO, TheGuardian reports. The disease has no known cure.
Symptoms can take up to 21 days to show. They include diarrhea, vomiting, internal and external bleeding.
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