Ebola in London

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
James Cleverly
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Given Ebola is present in Europe, this deadly disease now presents a real threat to Britain. Can the Mayor reassure Londoners that he and all relevant London bodies are doing their utmost to ensure that London is adequately prepared for an Ebola outbreak in the capital? And can he confirm what contingencies and resilience measures have been undertaken in this regard?


Answer for Ebola in London

Answer for Ebola in London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I called a meeting of my Advisory Group on 9 October at which I received a briefing from Public Health England (PHE) which is taking the lead on this nationally in the UK. Separately PHE briefed the London Resilience Forum on 6 October; and they have also been in regular close contact with key London stakeholders since July 2014.

London has some of the best public health protection systems in the world and the risk to the UK remains low. NHS England (London) has robust and well tested systems in place to deal with Ebola, as demonstrated in the case of Will Pooley. The risk of Ebola to the general public in London remains very low.

However, this is the largest known outbreak of the virus and PHE have been working with NHS England (London) and London Ambulance Service to ensure arrangements are in place for the identification and clinical management of suspect and confirmed cases.

PHE England has started screening UK-bound air passengers, identified by the Border Force, coming on the main routes from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Heathrow receives around 85% of all such arrivals. Enhanced screening is also in place at London Gatwick Airport and from Friday October 24 Eurostar will introduce the measures on trains which connect to Paris and Brussels.             

Passengers have their temperature taken and complete a questionnaire asking about their current health, recent travel history and whether they might be at potential risk through contact with Ebola patients. They will also be required to provide contact details. PHE remain alert following events in America and Spain however, it's important to remember that even if cases are identified here, there are robust, well-developed and well-tested NHS systems for managing unusual infectious diseases. London City Airport is not currently implementing enhanced screening however has been in contact with PHE to ensure appropriate response.

There has been no impact on business as a result of these measures, however a number of airline operators have taken decisions to cease flights to affected West African countries until the end of 2014.

City of London Corporation has been working with Public Health England in its role as Port Health Authority, with information shared as appropriate; at this stage there is no impact on the operation of London's port facilities.

A decision was taken on 9 October by the Secretary of State for Health to postpone a national pandemic influenza exercise in order to prioritise the validation of Ebola contingency arrangements. A national exercise was held on 11 October in Newcastle and Hillingdon involving relevant authorities to test the state of preparedness for Ebola, and this was supported by a London workshop on 15 October. This demonstrated that our services worked well together to deliver a robust response.

A Strategic Coordinating Group met on 21 October to discuss any additional multi-agency actions required and agreed how information on will be shared with Londoners. It was also agreed to provide operational staff at the Borough level with training through a series of workshops, the first of which is scheduled to take place on 22 October.