A Nigerian man showing symptoms of Ebola has been quarantined at a hospital in Alicante, Spain. The man had arrived in Spain only a few days previously. He is reported by Euronews to be in a stable condition.
If confirmed, the case will heighten fears that immigrants arriving in southern European countries could carry the virus across the continent. The virus has a three week incubation period so can be difficult to detect at border crossings.
However, the situation is complicated by the fact that most of the EU and some countries outside the EU are part of the Schengen Area – a bloc of 26 countries that agreed to dissolve borders, allowing people to move freely between them. It stretches from Italy and Spain in the south to Norway and Finland in the north.
Although the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Area, it has attracted derision from British politicians who say it effectively brings the furthest outreaches of Area to our doorstep.
Schengen has previously been criticised in tandem with the EU’s policy of free movement of workers, and for allowing illegal immigrants crossing weak borders in southern and eastern Europe free access to the economically more robust countries of northern Europe. But the threat of Ebola raises a new challenge for those both within the Area and on the periphery: how to keep out a deadly virus when borders are weak to non-existent.
Breitbart London has recently reported on how Britain is increasing maritime patrols and security at French ports to protect the country from Ebola. The English Channel has so far proved an effective boundary for keeping rabies away, but with channel crossings by boat and train a daily reality, will it prove as effective at keeping out Ebola?