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British Army medics prepare to take on Ebola

Army medics in Strensall, near York. Credit: ITV News

At the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Strensall, near York, army medics have been taken through their paces this week in preparation for deployment to Sierra Leone. They have been meticulously trained in how to handle people suspected of being infected with Ebola, how to isolate the virus and how to properly put on and take off the many layers of protective clothing.

When they arrive in West Africa, their task is to set up and operate a field hospital in the Ebola-stricken country that will look after healthcare workers who have volunteered from around the world. If any of them get infected, the British army's hospital will be where they get treated. It is part of the UK's £125m package of aid for Sierra Leone to deal with the disease.

Army medics in Strensall, near York. Credit: ITV News

Almost ten months into the epidemic, countries outside West Africa are waking up to the idea that Ebola could turn up on their doorstep. Until now, the human to human transmission of Ebola had been confined to West Africa but yesterday's emergence of an infection in Spain - investigations of how this happened are ongoing - has led to questions about whether or not adequate measures are in place in western countries to contain the virus.

Army medics in Strensall, near York. Credit: ITV News

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said today that more cases are "unavoidable" in Europe and the public health authorities in the UK said there was a "low but nevertheless real risk of importing a case of Ebola" into the UK. A modelling study by American scientists shows that, if current rates of air travel are maintained between affected areas and the rest of the world, there is a 50% chance that the Ebola virus will arrive in the UK by 24th October and a 75% chance it will get to France by the same time.

Army medics in Strensall, near York. Credit: ITV News

The WHO has recommended exit screenings of those leaving affected countries with an unexplained illness and that patients with Ebola shouldn't travel, unless part of a medical evacuation. Though they haven't yet recommend entry screening at UK airports - something that has already been taking place in the US. Border staff at UK airports have been issued with advice, however, on how to deal with unwell passengers arriving in the UK As the army medics prepare to set off from Strensall in the coming weeks, David Cameron plans to personally chair a meeting of the government's emergency committee, COBRA, on Wednesday, to co-ordinate Britain's leading role in helping Sierra Leone.

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