Ebola crisis: David Cameron urges EU airport screening

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Media captionThe Royal Navy ship will provide supplies and helicopter support to medical staff, as Keith Doyle reports

David Cameron has urged other European countries to start Ebola screening at airports, saying they "must do more" to stop the deadly disease spreading.

Screening of some Heathrow arrivals started this week, with Eurostar and Gatwick set to follow suit next week.

France is to check passengers flying to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport from Guinea's capital Conakr from Saturday.

Meanwhile, the RFA Argus is shortly set to leave for Sierra Leone, with medical teams and aid experts on board.

The Royal Navy ship, which has a fully-equipped hospital, is expected to reach the region by the end of the month and will also be carrying 225 military personnel.

UN appeal

The virus has killed about 4,500 people so far, with nearly all of the deaths in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

On Friday, the UN launched another urgent appeal for funds to help fight the virus after a $1bn trust fund which opened last month received just $100,000 (£62,000).

RFA Argus in numbers

  • 100 hospital beds

  • 3 Merlin helicopters

  • 350 crew, including:

  • 83 medics and

  • 80 Royal Marines


Canada and the US have already introduced increased screening of travellers arriving at airports from West Africa. At Heathrow, the measures also target passengers from those countries.

No 10 said screening "would be in place at Gatwick and St Pancras during the next week".

The prime minister raised concerns about the quality of protection in place in Europe, and said he believed other governments should emulate UK checks.

A Downing Street said: "There was a discussion over the need for the international community to do much more to support the fight against the disease in the region.

"This included greater co-ordination of the international effort, an increase in the amount of spending and more support for international workers who were, or who were considering, working in the region."

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Image caption RFA Argus will set off from Falmouth in Cornwall

On Thursday, UK army medics arrived in Sierra Leone to help with battle the virus.

A team of 91, including nurses, doctors and infectious disease consultants, have joined 40 soldiers already there to work at a UK-supported treatment centre, which has 12 of its 92 beds set aside for healthcare workers who risk infection while treating others.

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Media captionRFA Argus Captain David Eagles: "The ship is ready, in all respects, to deploy"

Meanwhile, on a ministerial visit to the West Midlands, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "I think we will see someone with Ebola arriving in the UK and the chief medical officer thinks it will be a handful of cases in the next three months.

"We have to be prepared. We have very strict procedures and we have to make sure everyone knows those procedures."

Footballers monitored

Mr Cameron's criticism of European neighbours come amid criticism of the US response, after a nurse with Ebola was allowed to board a flight from Ohio to Texas despite telling officials she had a fever.

US authorities are currently trying to track down 132 passengers who were on board with Amber Joy Vinson - who was infected along with a colleague after caring for a patient in Texas.

Image copyright European Photopress Agency
Image caption Screening at Heathrow is set to be expanded to Gatwick and London's St Pancras station, Downing Street said

In sport, Premier League clubs have said their doctors will closely monitor footballers who are returning from the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Although no players have travelled back to the UK from the worst-affected parts of West Africa, the issue has been considered by club medics.

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