UK & World News

  • 4 August 2014, 11:58

Ebola Test After Woman Dies At Gatwick

A woman who collapsed at Gatwick Airport and later died after flying in from West Africa has tested negative for ebola.

The passenger, who is thought to have been in her 70s, showed no symptoms during the flight, but became unwell after she landed.

The GambiaBird aircraft, as well as crew and airport workers, were isolated for a time, said a Gatwick spokeswoman.

However, health chiefs said there was no risk that the deadly virus had made its way into the UK.

"Yesterday morning a passenger became unwell after disembarking a flight at Gatwick from The Gambia, and sadly died in hospital," said Dr Brian McCloskey, from Public Health England.

"There was no health risk to other passengers or crew, as the passenger did not have symptoms during the flight. It was considered very unlikely to be a case of ebola, but testing was done as a precaution, and was negative."

The woman reportedly started to sweat heavily and vomit when she landed, prompting an emergency response from paramedics, immigration officials and airport staff.

The woman died at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, which also carried out the ebola test.

The Gatwick spokeswoman said: "Given the origin of the flight, the hospital carried out tests for ebola and other infectious diseases as a precaution. The tests came back negative.

"As a precaution, the aircraft was isolated, as were relevant airline and airport staff.

"At every stage, we took advice from Public Health England, which cleared the aircraft for its return journey."

More than 700 people have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia during the current outbreak of the virus, which has no cure and a fatality rate of up to 90%.

Meanwhile, an American doctor infected with ebola in West Africa "seems to be improving", according to a US official.

Aid worker Kent Brantly was flown from Liberia to his home country on Saturday and is now being treated at Emory University hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wearing a white bio-suit, he was seen walking slowly into the medical facility which has a state-of-the-art isolation unit.

Doctors say they are confident the virus will not escape.

Dr Brantly's colleague, Nancy Writebol, who is also infected, is expected to fly to the US for treatment on Tuesday.

Some medical experts have criticised the international response to the outbreak, arguing not enough is being done to combat ebola because it is confined to Africa.

Dr John Ashton, from the UK Faculty of Public Health, told Sky News: "It takes the infection of Westerners before we take notice. It's really shocking.

"It's an indictment of our morality and the West, and the pharmaceutical industry of course is only interested if there are sufficient numbers to be able to make profits out of it."

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