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London Assembly reassured over Ebola contingency plans

Public Health England and the London Mayor’s Chief of Staff appeared before the GLA Oversight Committee recently to be questioned about pan-London resilience arrangements, in the event of an Ebola Virus incident in London.

Dr Deborah Turbitt, Deputy Regional Director for Health Protection, Public Health England told the committee that it was very unlikely there would be more than two or three cases arriving in London.

She said; “Screening has been in place for some time now at Heathrow and other ports of entry. This involves the UK Border Force identifying arrivals from at-risk countries and directing them to the screening teams, who will ask about their activities in the country of origin, take their temperature, give advice on what to watch for over the next three days and explain how to safely access the health system here. The instruction given to health care workers for the initial assessment is Talk – don’t touch.”

Sir Edward Lister, Chief of Staff, Greater London Authority (GLA) said; “We are confident robust arrangements are in place. The Mayor’s Advisory Group met twice in October to discuss the plans and reassurances were given. The role of the Mayor in the event of an incident is threefold: to communicate with and be the voice for London, to share information across all the organizations involved and to support the lead government agencies, such as Public Health England.”

Len Duvall AM, Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee said; “It is clear the Mayor has assured himself that checks and systems are in place to deal with the issue, should it arise. Ebola is difficult to catch, the risk of onward transmission is also extremely low and medical staff are trained to assess and isolate any suspected cases. Obviously we hope the plans will not be needed but we are reassured the issue is being taken seriously and the GLA is ready to act, should it be necessary.”

•Date: 16th December 2014 • UK •Type: Article • Topic: Pandemic planning

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