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France

France announces Ebola screenings at Paris airport

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-10-16

French health officials on Thursday said screening measures for Ebola among passengers arriving from Guinea, one of the main West African countries affected by the deadly disease, would start Saturday at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

France became the fourth country –after Britain, the United States and Canada–to announce screening checks for the virus at its main international airport, as the United Nations warned Ebola was outpacing efforts to combat the epidemic.

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said medical teams, including Red Cross officials, would check the temperatures of passengers arriving on flights from Guinea.

The announcement came as Spanish authorities said they had isolated an Air France plane at Madrid airport and activated emergency health procedures after one of the passengers was reported to have a fever and shivers in what is being treated as a suspected Ebola case, officials said Thursday.

A Spanish Airport Authority spokeswoman said the passenger jet had arrived in Madrid from Paris. She said the plane was taken to a special area of the airport complex and the passengers were being kept on board.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with the regulations of their respective offices.

The announcement came a day after French President François Hollande held a video conference Wednesday with his US counterpart Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian premier Matteo Renzi to discuss their response to the virus.

EU health ministers are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss measures to deal with the epidemic, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives, mainly from the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

An EU statement released on the eve of the meeting said the risk of the virus spreading from an Ebola patient in Spain was low.

Last week, Spain recorded its first case of a person contracting the disease in Europe, when a Spanish nurse, who treated a patient who had arrived from Liberia, developed Ebola symptoms and tested positive for the disease.

The UK became the first EU country to introduce screening measures this week at Heathrow’s Terminal 1, where flights from the affected countries arrive. The measures will be extended to Gatwick airport and Eurostar by the end of the week.

Obama says US outbreak risk ‘low’

The meeting of EU health officials comes a day after a second health worker in the US tested positive for Ebola.

Texas health officials said the infected worker cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian Ebola sufferer who was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for 11 days before he died on October 8.

“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored," the department said in a statement.

The first US healthcare worker, 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham, tested positive for Ebola over the weekend.

Obama canceled a political campaign trip to meet cabinet officials involved in the Ebola response both in the US and in West Africa. He also cleared his agenda for Thursday, postponing other engagements so that he could remain in Washington and monitor the situation.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Obama said the likelihood of a widespread Ebola outbreak was "very, very low." But he pledged a more aggressive response to Ebola cases.

The US Congress is also set to a hold a hearing on Thursday to discuss the country’s response to Ebola.

The current outbreak has been the worst since the disease was identified in 1976. The virus can cause fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, and spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

Date created : 2014-10-16

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