(AFP) Britain began screening passenger arrivals at London Heathrow Airport for Ebola on Tuesday as the Royal Navy loaded a ship with supplies for epidemic-stricken Sierra Leone.
The checks at Heathrow Terminal One will be expanded by the end of next week to the rest of Britain’s main air hub, as well as London Gatwick Airport, and Eurostar railway stations linking London and southeast England to France and Belgium.
Although there are currently no direct flights to Britain from the worst-affected countries, passengers whose journeys originated there will have their temperature taken and be asked about any potential contact with Ebola patients.
Any possible carriers will then undergo a clinical assessment and if necessary be transferred to hospital.
Heathrow Terminal One receives around 85 percent of all arrivals from the hardest-hit countries.
The worst-ever Ebola epidemic has already claimed more than 4,000 lives, largely in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Meanwhile British troops were loading up the RFA Argus, which will set sail for Sierra Leone later this week to help in efforts to contain the outbreak.
The civilian-staffed military medical support ship is docked in Falmouth, southwest England.
It will travel with three Merlin helicopters, aircrew and engineers to provide transport and support to medical teams and aid workers.
Captain David Eagles, the ship’s commanding officer, said the vessel would be used to transfer personnel, aid and equipment throughout the affected region.
The ship, with some 350 people on board, will take around 10 days to reach west Africa, he told Sky News television.
Troops with landing craft will escort personnel ashore and protect teams deployed on the ground.
Ebola patients will not be brought aboard, and any member of the ship’s company thought to have come into contact with victims would be sent to treatment facilities onshore.