The papers: the Islamic State 'plot' and Ebola threat to UK

The first case of Ebola transmission within Europe attracts much attention, with speculation in Wednesday's papers over how the UK should keep itself safe from the virus, which has killed 3,400 people in its current outbreak.

The Daily Mirror explains that Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos contracted the disease in a Madrid hospital where she was part of a team treating two missionaries who had caught Ebola in West Africa.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Spanish nurses received these protective clothes when treating the infected missionaries, but health unions have said the precautions were insufficient

The men, both Spanish, died, and now Ms Romero Ramos is being treated in the hospital, and her husband and two other people have been quarantined. Her dog is to be put down as a precaution.

"Officials were racing to trace up to 30 staff who had been in contact with Teresa and patients they have treated," the Mirror adds.

The panic has wiped £2bn off the value of shares in airlines and holiday companies, as investors worry about the impact on international flights.

The paper says health experts believe the Ebola outbreak has a "50% probability" of reaching Britain within 16 days.

The Guardian reports from Alcoron, the Madrid suburb where the nurse lived.

It is a "city in fear", the paper says.

"Did she go to the supermarket? The gym? We don't know anything," a resident tells the paper.

The Independent says that Home Office minister Norman Baker has called for the UK to consider introducing screening of air passengers for the disease.

"We need to consider whether existing controls are adequate," he tells the paper.

The Indy also quotes the World Health Organization's European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab, who says further cases in the continent are inevitable.

"It is unavoidable … that such incidents will happen in the future because of the extensive travel both from Europe to the affected countries and the other way around."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Teresa Romero Ramos

The Times highlights the assurance given by public health chiefs in the UK that "tried and tested systems" exist to protect the public from outbreaks of such diseases.

Dr Brian McCloskey of Public Health England tells the paper, "the worst case scenario is a number of isolated cases coming in from west Africa and being treated in the UK."

He says screening air passengers is not necessarily effective as symptoms have often not presented themselves when people are travelling, and "establishing a travel history" is something doctors should do if treating patients with "unexplained fevers".

The Daily Mail notes the disease's impact in its crucible of West Africa, reporting that in Sierra Leone the virus is currently spreading at a rate of five cases an hour. It kills half of all those it infects.


The other big story for Wednesday's media is the arrest of four men in London over what the Daily Mail and many other papers say may be an "Islamic State-linked" terror plot.

"It is understood to be the first plot in Britain that is directly linked to the IS terrorists responsible for the murders of British hostages Alan Henning and David Haines," the Mail continues.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption IS propaganda videos have called for retribution against the UK for its part in US-led air strikes in Iraq

It adds, "last month, raids were conducted throughout Australia amid intelligence that IS were planning 'demonstration killings' there, reportedly including a public beheading."

The Daily Telegraph says the alleged plot was "smashed" by MI5 and police.

The paper says it has learned that "one of the men arrested had returned from Syria and had links with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [IS], possibly as a fighter."

The Sun, which has launched a high-profile campaign urging Britons to "stand up to" IS extremists, says one of the men had posted jihadist messages on social media.

It quotes a neighbour of the Moroccan-born 21-year-old, who witnessed his arrest.

"We heard three explosions like bombs going off and saw dozens of armed police charging around.

"There were blinding, flashing lights and a lot of shouting and screaming - police were yelling at people to get back in and close their doors. It was terrifying."

Scotland Yard tells the paper the investigation is "ongoing".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The battle for Kobane can be seen from the Turkish town of Suruc

Meanwhile, in Syria, the battle against IS forces continues in the mainly Kurdish city of Kobane, close to the Turkish border.

"Hours after two of the group's black flags were raised on the outskirts of the town on Monday, the militants punctured the Kurdish front lines and advanced into the town itself," the Guardian reports.

The paper says there has been anger at the Turkish government for its unwillingness to help the Kurds.

"The Turkish parliament last week authorised the government to take military action against Isis.

"But Turkey has not announced plans for any operations, with Ankara apparently seeking a commitment from the West to move decisively against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, as well as the jihadis," the paper notes.

The paper's leader column warns the West against making an alliance with Assad against IS.

"Allowing Assad to become what the Americans used to call 'our sonofabitch' would only increase the appeal of IS to mainstream Sunni opinion in Syria and beyond, boosting the very forces the international coalition is set on destroying," it cautions.


The changing face of Britain's high streets over the past 10 years is reflected in a story in the Guardian.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Britain's changing high streets are good news for some

Out have gone specialists selling clothes, flowers and newspapers, and in have come "evening attractions" such as restaurants, bars and clubs.

The data, compiled by Experian, shows the biggest falls have been in the number of DVD/video rental shops (down by 98%), film developers (down 70%), womenswear outlets (down 48%) and travel agents (a 46% decrease).

High Street "winners" include fish and chip shops (up 86%); gyms (114%); tattoo parlours (up 173%) and convenience stores (a whopping 186% rise).

The Institute of Grocery Distribution tells the paper that it predicts that in five years "the sales rung up in small neighbourhood stores will have increased by a third to almost £50bn - piling pressure on the economics of the traditional supermarket model."

The high street's economy is ever-changing, the Guardian notes.

"Along with betting shops, mobile phone retailers have been among the types of businesses keen to open high street stores in recent years.

"But last month's collapse of Phones 4u - which resulted in the closure of 362 stores - points to a high street in constant flux as changing buying habits and new technology trends continue to reshape its purpose."

Work-life balance

The Daily Mail reports a "storm as NHS gives go-ahead to patient record database".

The paper says officials have given the go-ahead to a "controversial plan to harvest the personal data of millions of NHS patients, despite widespread concerns.

"A pilot scheme involving 265 GP surgeries and 1.7million patients will see confidential medical information put on a giant computer database."

The project was initially due to begin nationally in spring but was shelved after concern by GPs and campaigners over record security.

Image caption Australia is seen as the land of opportunity for some British-trained medics

"Critics warn it could fall into the hands of hackers - or insurance firms who will use it to drive up premiums for patients with certain conditions," the Mail adds.

The Guardian says the new plan, while containing extra safeguards, could be open to abuse, according to privacy groups.

The paper says campaigners are worried that, "personal identifiers are removed but not enough to make information completely anonymous."

Still on health, the Mail also reports that 3,000 UK doctors are leaving the country each year "for a life in the sun".

The paper notes the exodus, primarily to Australia and New Zealand, is forcing the NHS to import staff from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Apart from the climate, the paper says Australia and New Zealand are seen as attractive by doctors because "demands are less intense and doctors enjoy a better work-life balance."

It notes that the medics each cost the British taxpayer £610,000 to train.

The exodus is not just doctors, as the Daily Mirror reveals that "nearly two thirds of the UK's 60,000 trainee nurses may go abroad to work ."

The figure is based on a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) study which says the trainees are considering careers in "Australia, Canada, Dubai and the US, where they can earn upwards of £10,000 a year more."

The nurses, each costing £70,000 to train, would "cripple" the NHS and put patients at risk, if they left in the numbers suggested.

"The government is making a rod for its own back by refusing a cost of living increase," the RCN tells the paper.


Trying to lose weight? Consider investing in thicker curtains then, if a story in the Daily Mail is to be believed.

The paper reports that researchers have found that our bodies need "pitch-black dark to produce the right levels of a hormone involved in regulating the conversion of food and drink into energy."

Street lights can interfere with the release of melatonin, the hormone involved, but even worse - the Mail says - are short-wave "blue light", such as that often emitted by smart-phones on charge.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption "Brain buzz" strikes again...

"Although [a mobile phone's light] is not bright enough to light up a room, it still disrupts our bodies," the multinational team says.

This is said to be because the blue light keeps our minds "buzzing".

Sleep expert Dr Simon Kyle of Manchester University tells the paper: "A lot of people are interested in this at the moment given that as a 24-hour society, sleep deprivation is increasing and we are exposing ourselves to artificial light at night.

"We are interested in how an alteration in the sleep-wake pattern may be involved in the onset of diabetes and obesity.

"If you can have complete darkness at night time you might be able to recreate time's pre-industrial period and have a stab at improving the obesity epidemic."

The paper illustrates its story with a cartoon of a man lying in bed with a newspaper whose headline reads "charging your mobile by your bed can make you fat". The man, needless to say, is using his mobile to order a pizza.

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