Britain holds Ebola outbreak test

Britain was on Saturday holding a nationwide exercise to test its preparedness for an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

London: Britain was on Saturday holding a nationwide exercise to test its preparedness for an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

The eight-hour exercise was to feature actors pretending to have Ebola plus doctors, nurses and the ambulance service treating them at undisclosed locations around the country.

It will be followed by a "simulated" meeting of the government's emergency committee Cobra, the Department of Health said in a statement.

"The public can be assured that we have been planning our response to an Ebola case in the UK for many months now since the outbreak started in west Africa," a spokesman for the Department of Health said.

"It is vital that we test these plans in as realistic a situation as possible - with real people in real time."

The Ebola epidemic has killed over 4,000 people this year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone the worst hit.

Britain has only treated one case of Ebola on its shores.

William Pooley, a nurse who contracted the virus while working in Sierra Leone, made a full recovery last month after being treated in a London hospital.

But concerns have risen since a Spanish nurse caught Ebola while treating a patient in a Madrid hospital and the World Health Organisation has warned that other isolated infections in Europe were "unavoidable".

Britain announced Wednesday it was sending 750 military personnel, a medical ship and three helicopters to Sierra Leone to help fight the spread of Ebola.

It also said Thursday it would start screening travellers coming from Ebola-hit parts of west Africa at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and on Eurostar trains from Belgium and France.

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