Beds, Herts & Bucks

Ebola: Man removes daughter from school over facemask refusal

Jon O'Brien Image copyright Jon O'Brien
Image caption Jon O'Brien said he wants his action over Ebola to "make people think"

A father worried about Ebola arriving in the UK has taken his teenage daughter out of school because it will not let her wear a facemask.

Jon O'Brien, from Turvey, Bedfordshire, said staff at Sharnbrook Upper School told him that wearing a mask "wouldn't be appropriate".

The father said it was his "right as a concerned parent".

Bedford Borough Council said parents who remove children from school without "legitimate reason" may be prosecuted.

"Under the Education Act, we are required to ensure that an individual's access to education is not disrupted," a council spokesman said.

"Therefore, if a parent removes their child from school without a legitimate reason, they are liable for prosecution."

The school said nobody was available to comment.

Ebola deaths

Figures up to 13 January 2016


Deaths - probable, confirmed and suspected

(Includes one in the US and six in Mali)

  • 4,809 Liberia

  • 3,955 Sierra Leone

  • 2,536 Guinea

  • 8 Nigeria


Mr O'Brien claimed that when he approached the school he was told his 13-year-old daughter could not wear a mask because there had been no reported cases of Ebola being transmitted in the UK.

But he said information on the disease was "changing daily".

Public Health England did not comment directly on Mr O'Brien's actions, but stated: "It is important to remember that for Ebola to be transmitted from one person to another contact with blood or other body fluids are needed.

"As such, if England was to see a case of Ebola this would not result in a serious, extended outbreak here."

Image copyright Jon O'Brien
Image caption Mr O'Brien said he was trying to "minimise the risk"

Mr O'Brien said: "This time next week when there is a reported case [in the UK], can my child wear a mask then?

"Unfortunately they could have already caught something. Prevention is better than a cure."

The 44-year-old said he has "the right to protect" his child, was "sickened" by the school's attitude and is teaching his daughter at home.

Passenger screening

"Until the general public wise up and start thinking about this and stop sending silly jokes around nothing is going to change," he said.

"It's coming and what are we doing about it?

"Everyone can laugh at me if they want but if it makes people think, that's all I want to do."

Mr O'Brien said he does not wear a mask himself while at work but does if he is in area where there are a lot of people.

Passengers from Ebola-affected countries currently arriving at Heathrow are being screened and checks will be introduced at Gatwick and St Pancras next week.

On Friday, Public Health England announced passenger screening will be extended to Manchester and Birmingham airports.

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