Britain to send ambulances for suspected Ebola cases

Ambulances and medics in protective suits will be sent to anyone calling Britain`s health emergency helpline with Ebola-like symptoms, the government announced Monday.

London: Ambulances and medics in protective suits will be sent to anyone calling Britain`s health emergency helpline with Ebola-like symptoms, the government announced Monday.

People dialling the 111 phone line, used for non-life-threatening emergencies, will be asked if they have been to west Africa recently and if they show typical signs of having contracted the virus.

No cases of Ebola infection have been reported so far in Britain but authorities expect a handful of cases in the coming months.

Centred in the hard-hit west African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the worst-ever Ebola epidemic has already claimed more than 4,000 lives.

Call handlers are asking anyone reporting potential symptoms -- such as respiratory problems, high temperatures, or diarrhoea and vomiting -- about their recent travel history.

"If the person with symptoms has recently been to west Africa and is at high risk of having been in contact with Ebola, 111 will immediately refer them to local emergency services for assessment by ambulance personnel with appropriate protective equipment," Hunt said.

Hunt was to inform parliament later Monday of other new measures to deal with the Ebola threat.

Britain staged a nationwide exercise Saturday to test its readiness for an outbreak.

The eight-hour exercise featured actors pretending to have Ebola and doctors, nurses and the ambulance service treating them. A simulated meeting of the government`s COBRA emergencies committee was also held.

Britain also said Thursday it would start screening travellers coming from Ebola-hit countries at London`s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and on Eurostar trains to the capital from Belgium and France.

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