Ebola: Government Response


The UK government is closely monitoring the spread of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea


Published on 04 August 2014


by Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, Department of Health and Public Health England

(WireNews+Co)

London, England

Ebola Virus Virion
Ebola Virus Virion

An Ebola outbreak was confirmed in Guinea in March 2014 and quickly spread to Liberia.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a rare but severe disease caused by the Ebola virus. Ebola is highly transmissible by direct contact with organs or bodily fluids of living or dead infected persons and animals.

The UK government is closely monitoring the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This is the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in recent times and there are no reports of British citizens being infected.

Should I be worried about this outbreak?

This is not an issue that affects the UK directly. We have experienced scientists and doctors – the Royal Free Infectious Disease Unit, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – and a lot of experience of dealing with dangerous diseases. The risk of this disease spreading fast in the UK is much lower because of that.

The UK government is taking precautionary measures and looking at capability but is confident that the UK has experienced people who are ready to deal with anything if it were to arrive here.

Listen to Chris Witty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development giving an overview of the outbreak so far, and outlining what the UK is doing to help contain the virus.

Following a meeting of government committee COBR, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

"We’ve looked at how we are co-ordinating with our French and American colleagues under the World Health Organisation; we’ve considered what additional measures the UK could take to help control the outbreak in West Africa; and we’ve also looked at what measures we need to put in place on a precautionary basis in case any UK nationals in West Africa should become affected by the disease.

"We do not, at the moment, think this is an issue that affects the UK directly."

What are the arrangements at the border?

Border Force has been working closely with Public Health England and other agencies to ensure staff are prepared to deal with the threat of the Ebola virus.

As part of this planning, guidance has been issued to front line staff on how to identify and safely deal with suspected cases of Ebola that makes clear what steps need to be taken should a passenger arrive at the border unwell.

If a person is identified at the border as being a potential carrier of Ebola they will be immediately referred by a Border Force officer to a specialist medical care provider and reported to the Public Health England.

Travel advice

Travellers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are advised to follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Get the latest travel advice for Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Government actions to help affected countries

In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Department for International Development is making a £2 million package of assistance available to partners including the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières that are operating in Sierra Leone and Liberia to tackle the outbreak.

This latest round of funding is in addition to support the UK has been providing since the outbreak of the disease in February 2014.

In Sierra Leone and Liberia the UK has been supporting agencies to increase awareness and understanding of the disease within the community, to improve treatment for those infected and to prevent its spread within and across borders. This includes working with the WHO to train health workers and provide the supplies they need to tackle the outbreak.

The UK has also funded initiatives to improve public information, including radio messaging programmes, on the outbreak in Sierra Leone to help control the spread of the disease.

In Liberia the UK has provided chlorine and other materials for hygiene and sanitising.

Other organisations helping to contain the outbreak

International agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Population Fund, USAID and the Red Cross have all been on the ground helping the health services of the countries affected. The international community has contributed more than £2 million in aid, including £300,000 from the EU.

On 2 and 3 July WHO convened a meeting in Accra to coordinate regional activity and develop an Ebola virus response strategy. The UK government is supporting this process.


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Posted 2014-08-04 11:23:00