Heathrow introduces Ebola screening
Passengers arriving at Heathrow airport from Ebola-affected countries are now being screened by health officials.
The government said “a few passengers” had their temperatures checked and filled in a health questionnaire at Terminal 1 on Tuesday.
Screening will be extended to Heathrow’s other terminals by the end of the week, and Gatwick airport and Eurostar next week.
The measures are set to cost £9m over the next six months.
The UK and the US have both introduced screening measures in response to the threat from Ebola, which has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.
The first flight subjected to the screening left Liberia for Brussels on Monday night, with transfers coming into Heathrow at 09:30 BST on Tuesday.
High-risk passengers were flagged up to border control and passed on to health workers from Public Health England who then carried out the actual screening.
The Department of Health estimates that 85% of all arrivals to the UK from affected countries will come through Heathrow.
There are no direct flights to the UK from the three worst-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.
Public Health England director Dr Paul Cosford said: “This is a set-up process. We will be learning from the experience today and over coming days as to how it is working.
“The principle benefit is about distributing information to people about how to contact, the symptoms to look out for, and who to contact in the event that they do get symptoms when they are in this country.”
He said the expectation was that everyone who was asked to go through the process would do so.
He said the information given out via leaflets, and protocol about who to call if affected, was as important as the screening.
No system was “100% certain” but it was about reducing the risk as much as possible, he added.
There are around 16 cases of Ebola reported in Europe and the US. Of these, only two people were infected in West Africa. The rest contracted the virus while in their countries.