Thursday, 1 January 2015

U.K. Will Review Airport Ebola Checks

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By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News

Dec. 31, 2014 -- Procedures for screening health care workers returning to the United Kingdom from countries affected by Ebola will be reviewed after an infected nurse was cleared to fly from London to Glasgow, Scotland, despite apparently telling airport staff she felt unwell.

Another National Health Service worker, who was on the same flight as the infected woman, described the screening process at the airport as "chaotic."

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey, 39, asked officials at London’s Heathrow Airport to check her temperature several times. Afterward, she was allowed to board another flight to Glasgow.

The U.K. Department of Health says Cafferkey received seven temperature checks, and all the readings were within an acceptable range.

Specialized Isolation Unit

Within hours, Cafferkey was admitted to the infectious diseases unit at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow. U.K. rules for dealing with dangerous infectious diseases like Ebola required her to be transferred early Dec. 30 to the high level isolation unit (HLIU) in the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Earlier this year, the same unit successfully treated British volunteer nurse William Pooley, who caught Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, Africa.

Access to the HLIU is restricted to a small team of specially trained medical staff. The patient is treated inside a tent with its own controlled ventilation system to minimize the risk of infection.

Alerting Passengers

Cafferkey, an NHS nurse working with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Center in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, left on Dec. 28. She flew to Glasgow via Casablanca, Morocco, and London's Heathrow as part of a larger group of volunteers.

Health authorities have insisted the risk to other passengers is low. But Public Health England (PHE) is contacting 132 passengers and the crew on board Royal Air Maroc flight AT0800 from Casablanca to London.

Health Protection Scotland is carrying out a similar exercise for 71 people on board British Airways flight BA1478 from London to Glasgow.

Those who are contacted are being made aware that a person on their flight was confirmed with Ebola after they returned to the U.K., although the person would have been in the very early stages of disease and extremely unlikely to be infectious.

source : U.K. Will Review Airport Ebola Checks

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