Ebola in Britain: Why was the sick nurse allowed to fly (from Heathrow to Glasgow, Scotland)?

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey had been volunteering at a Save the Children specialist Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, said health officials should have been “more precautionary” before allowing Pauline Cafferkey to board an internal flight from London to her home in Glasgow on Sunday night.

Miss Cafferkey had complained of a high temperature at a screening area at the airport but after being retested six more times was allowed to continue her journey.

Miss Cafferkey, 39, was identified yesterday as the nurse currently being treated in an isolation unit for the Ebola virus. She had written movingly of her time in Sierra Leone in a diary, extracts of which are published in today’s Telegraph.

A colleague of Miss Cafferkey, who had sat next to her on the flight into Heathrow, described the screening process at the airport as “shambolic”.

In further developments it also emerged that officials had still to trace more than 100 passengers – including eight people who sat in her immediate vicinity – who had travelled with Miss Cafferkey, either on a flight from Morocco to London or her connecting flight to Glasgow.

Miss Cafferkey, 39, was flown back to London yesterday in a ‘military-style’ plane for specialised treatment at the Royal Free Hospital.

She may receive blood plasma from Ebola survivors as part of her pioneering treatment. Plasma is likely to be donated by William Pooley, the British nurse diagnosed in west Africa with Ebola and successfully treated at the Royal Free. An experimental drug – ZMapp – used to treat Mr Pooley is “not available at the moment”, Professor Davies disclosed at an emergency press conference.

At the briefing, the senior official in charge of Public Health England, which has overall responsibility for Ebola screening, said Miss Cafferkey was tested seven times after she landed at Heathrow airport within the space of two hours.


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