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Test for Ebola at UK airports: Home office minister

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A nurse addresses the media

A nurse addresses the media

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Police escort an ambulance transporting the Spanish nurse infected by Ebola to Alcorcon Hospital in Spain

Police escort an ambulance transporting the Spanish nurse infected by Ebola to Alcorcon Hospital in Spain

Getty Images

The ambulance crew wearing protective clothing

The ambulance crew wearing protective clothing

Getty Images

A nurse addresses the media

A Home Office minister has said Britain should consider introducing screening for Ebola carriers arriving at airports, after a Spanish nurse became the first person to have caught the virus in Europe.

President Barack Obama announced that the United States is to monitor traveller for signs they are carrying the virus, warning that containment of Ebola is "a top national security priority".

Public Health England said it had no plans to bring in screening for the disease, which has already claimed 3,400 lives in West Africa. Rates of infection are set to increase dramatically.

The Home Office also insisted there would be no change of policy. But Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat minister in the department, described Ebola's arrival in Europe as a "very concerning development" and said the case for increasing screening in airports had to be examined. He said: "We need to consider whether existing controls are adequate."

The accelerating Ebola crisis will be discussed today at a meeting of Cobra, the Whitehall emergencies committee, which will be chaired by David Cameron.

It will examine whether Britain is fully prepared to cope with the virus in this country, as well as what more can be done to tackle its spread in West Africa.

According to research from a group of American universities monitoring the spread of the disease, the UK is the third-most-likely country outside Africa to 'import' Ebola.

The Cobra meeting had been arranged before the announcement that a Spanish nurse had contracted Ebola from a patient, but the spread of the virus to Europe will give it extra urgency.

Members of one Spanish health workers' trade union claimed the protection suits they had used while handling Ebola cases were not of the highest standard.

Spanish health officials have stepped up measures to contain the spread of Ebola, quarantining four people at a Madrid hospital where the nursing assistant became infected and persuading a court that the woman's dog must be put down.

She was part of a team caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month after being evacuated from Sierra Leone.

Belfast Telegraph