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Question for Department of Health

UIN 207707, tabled on 1 September 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to prepare contingency plans in the event of an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the UK.

Answered on

8 September 2014

The risk to the United Kingdom of Ebola remains very low. The National Health Service has plans in place to deal with patients with infectious diseases as part of its core business. This includes plans to manage patients in line with infection control procedures, and where necessary in highly specialist infectious diseases facilities. We keep these plans under constant review.

These plans have been tested most recently by the successful transfer back to the UK of a healthcare worker who became infected with Ebola when working with patients in Sierra Leone. The patient, a British National, was cared for in the national High Level Isolation Unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The patient has now recovered.

In the unlikely event of an outbreak involving more than two people, specialist staff at this unit are trained and prepared to look after patients safely in an isolation ward, which would be dedicated for this purpose.

It is extremely unlikely that an outbreak of Ebola would occur in the UK even if there was to be an imported case, as there are factors operating in West Africa which would not be seen in the UK.