Screening measures for Ebola are to be reviewed after a health worker was found to have the virus having flown on from Heathrow after repeated tests.
Dame Sally Davies, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, said questions had been raised about airport screening for Ebola after NHS nurse Pauline Cafferkey was found to have the virus after returning to the UK from west Africa.
Mrs Cafferkey flew in to Heathrow before catching a flight to Glasgow where she was placed in isolation after feeling feverish.
She was cleared as fit to flyChief medical officer
She had flown to Sierra Leone with other NHS volunteers in November.
“We regularly keep under review what we are doing because this is a new process,” Dame Sally said.
“Clearly queuing and things like that are unacceptable and we will review. But we will let people who are well travel because they will not infect the public.”
She said Mrs Cafferkey “was well” because “she had no symptoms”.
“Her temperature was within the acceptable range,” she added. “She would not be transmitting the virus, therefore she was cleared as fit to fly.”
Nurse Pauline Cafferkey is loaded in a quarantine tank onto a flight from Glasgow to London
Mrs Cafferkey is now receiving specialist treatment in quarantine after being transferred to London’s Royal Free Hospital.
She had initially flown from Sierra Leone via Morocco to Heathrow, where she was considered a high risk because of the nature of her work – but showed no symptoms during screening and a temperature check.
If anything needs to be changed it will beNHS spokesman
While waiting for her connecting flight to Glasgow she raised fears about her temperature and was tested a further six times in the space of 30 minutes.
She was given the all-clear despite her concerns, and flew on to Scotland. After taking a taxi home, she later developed a fever and raised the alarm.
A Department of Health spokesman said that when Mrs Cafferkey was tested at Heathrow “her temperature was in acceptable ranges and she was cleared for onward travel, with the advice that if she did start to feel unwell, she should contact health authorities”.
“After this person got home, she alerted health authorities that she was experiencing symptoms and was admitted to hospital for tests,” he added.
“Naturally, we will be reviewing what happened and the screening protocols, and if anything needs to be changed it will be.”