Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson is calling on the Health Minister to outline whether he has made contact with authorities in the UK to discuss the screening process being put in place at London airports to tackle the Ebola crisis.
Heathrow, Gatwick and Eurostar terminals are to have screening points set up for passengers arriving from at-risk countries by the end of the week. Passengers arriving in on connecting flights will also be tested. Brussels is the main hub for people travelling into Europe from West Africa and the majority of these people fly on to other European cities. It’s unclear if plans are in place to set up a similar screening system at Irish airports.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “The rapid rise in Ebola related deaths is sounding alarm bells around the world, but authorities appear to be failing to act to combat the spread of the virus. We’ve now seen deaths in Spain and Germany, bringing the threat of an outbreak even closer to home.
“The warning from the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response Anthony Banbury that the disease is “winning the race” is extremely worrying and highlights the need for a comprehensive response plan here in Ireland. The UK has begun to implement a screening process at major London airports, but we need clarity on whether similar procedures are being considered for Ireland. A number of European airports operate routes into West Africa, many of which have connecting flights to Irish airports, and it is imperative that passengers arriving into one airport and transferring to another are subject to screening.
“Have the authorities here been in contact with their UK and European counterparts to ensure that the risk of the virus arriving in Ireland is minimised and managed? Last week, the Health Minster claimed the risk of the deadly disease coming to Ireland was low, but he failed to outline any of the contingency measures that are in place to deal with the threat, choosing instead to accuse health sector unions of using the Ebola crisis to highlight resource issues.
“Our Government does not appear to be affording this potentially deadly health emergency the attention and planning it requires. People are now genuinely concerned about the risks posed by the rising infection and death rates. The fact that there have been deaths in Europe adds to the urgency of the situation. Ministers cannot afford to sit back and do nothing as the crisis comes ever closer to our shores”.