Health screening of customers arriving in the UK from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has started in Heathrow Terminal 5.

UK Border Force and Public Health England will be working together to identify customers as they arrive in Terminal 5’s immigration area.

The extra screening began at Heathrow Terminal 1 on Tuesday and is currently being rolled out to the other terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick as well as the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station.

It is expected to start in Heathrow Terminal 2 on Wednesday and Terminals 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday. The start date for screening at Gatwick has not yet been confirmed by the UK Government.

Customers selected for additional screening will have to have visited Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the recent past and UK Border Force will use Advance Passenger Information (APIS) to help them select people as they pass through each terminal’s immigration area.

Customers who have been to these three countries will be taken aside into a private room, close to the immigration area, for further questioning and if required a medical examination by staff from Public Health England.

All flights into and out of the UK are continuing as normal and colleagues working on board flights or carrying out any activity such as ramp, boarding, engineering, catering, cleaning etc should be aware of the following:

  1. Ebola is a very fragile virus. People get infected through very close, direct contact with others suffering from the disease, or their bodily fluids. It is not spread through the air.
  2. Those catching the disease have been very closely exposed to sick people either through caring for them (family members or medical staff) or preparing their bodies for funeral ceremonies.
  3. Symptoms include high fever, muscle pains, vomiting and bleeding. The virus’ incubation period (before any symptoms appear) is two to 21 days. There is no risk of transmission during the incubation period.
    The decision to stop flying to Sierra Leone and Liberia was taken in early August because the airline could no longer guarantee the robustness of local health facilities for our colleagues. The suspension of those routes has since been extended to the end of March 2015.

All other routes in Africa continue to operate as normal.

Screening is also being carried out at major airports in the US and Canada.

Colleagues will be sent regular updates if the situation changes and more information can be found on the following websites:

Public Health England
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/358306/west-africa-ebola-uk-aviation-sector-guidance-sept-2014.pdf

World Health Organisation
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

Centre for Disease Control & Prevention