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Soft border 'would prevent Ebola spreading'

An Ebola outbreak in Ireland could be made more difficult to fight if the next government fails to maintain a 'soft border' following Brexit, a leading infectious diseases consultant has warned.

Dr Sara Hedderwick of Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital said: "During the Ebola outbreak in 2015 it became clear to medics working on this issue that collaboration on an all-Ireland basis made most sense.

"For example, we faced difficulty in transporting potentially infectious samples by air to Great Britain. It proved much easier to send the samples by road to Dublin where our colleagues provided a critical rapid diagnostic service.

"If we were going to be in the position of dealing with an outbreak of Ebola, we needed to address it right across the country, in terms of setting up isolation units and diagnostic laboratories, and sharing information."

She spoke out as the British Medical Association called on politicians to protect the future of patient care in Northern Ireland and the Republic following Brexit by ensuring that a 'soft border' is maintained.

The organisation says the benefits of existing open border arrangements are at risk if border restrictions are introduced following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

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