How Europe is trying to prevent Ebola from spreading

European officials have said the risk of Ebola spreading on the continent is highly unlikely, but it has not stopped countries across the region adopting a series of measures to make doubly sure.

Here is are some of the precautions that individual nations are taking.

SCREENING

Airlines that are still serving west Africa are taking the temperature of departing travellers, on the advice of the World Health Organization.

Passengers with a fever are not supposed to travel until their state of health has been verified. But experts say there are loopholes, for example taking a paracetamol could bring down someone's temperature enough for them to travel.

Travellers reported to have symptoms in-flight are isolated and then taken away by a medical team on arrival.

Britain said Thursday it was introducing "enhanced screening" for Ebola at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and at the terminal for the Eurostar train to France and Belgium.

The European Union will on October 17 discuss possible measures to reinforce controls on travellers from west African affected by Ebola, following similar measures at Washington DC and Ottawa airports.

TRAVEL ADVICE

Many European countries are advising against travel to the worst affected countries, particularly Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Travellers leaving the affected region are being given leaflets telling them to check their for 21 days, the incubation period for the virus, and to contact a doctor if they have a fever of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) or above.

Medical personnel have been advised to check the history of patients who contact them with Ebola symptoms—for example fever, headaches, vomiting—and if in doubt to send them to one of the hospitals designated by each country for treatment of the virus.

These hospitals are equipped with negative pressure isolation rooms, protective material including gloves and overalls, and trained personnel.

In cases of confirmed infection, anybody linked to the patient will be monitored.

The EU on Wednesday said it was boosting efforts to spread the information more widely after in some countries complained they had not received it.

REPATRIATION PLANS

The EU has set up an evacuation plan for international medical workers in the Ebola zone, allowing patients to be flown within 48 hours to European hospitals "that are equipped to deal with the disease".

There have only been eight evacuations to Europe of foreign medical staff with Ebola, via military aircraft or a US charter airline.

The Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola at a Madrid hospital—the first case of transmission outside Africa during the current outbreak—caught it two missionaries were evacuated to Spain and treated at the same hospital. Both died.

Europe is meanwhile trying to find the resources to build an "air bridge" for evacuations, with Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark and Norway all in talks to provide resources.


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© 2014 AFP

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