Gatwick Airport and NHS explain Ebola test after passenger dies

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Gatwick Airport and Public Health England have explained why they carried out a test for Ebola following the death of a passenger.

The elderly woman died at East Surrey Hospital after disembarking from her flight from The Gambia in Gatwick Airport on Saturday afternoon (August 2).

A spokesman for Gatwick said: “We can confirm that a passenger on board a Gambia Bird flight on Saturday 2 August became unwell after disembarking the aircraft, was treated by experienced medical airport staff at the scene but sadly later died at East Surrey Hospital.

“Given the origin of the flight, the hospital carried out tests for Ebola and other infectious diseases as a precaution. The tests came back negative.

“As a precaution, the aircraft was isolated, as were relevant airline and airport staff. At every stage, we took advice from Public Health England, which cleared the aircraft for its return journey.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the tests were an “extreme precaution” because the woman had very poor health and had travelled from an area where the epidemic had broken out.

Contracting the disease in the UK was “almost impossible” and Ebola tests would not become regular occurrences.

Dr Brian McCloskey, director of global public health at Public Health England, said: “There was no health risk to other passengers or crew, as the passenger did not have symptoms during the flight.

“It was considered very unlikely to be a case of Ebola but testing was done as a precaution, and was negative.

“The correct procedures were followed to confirm there was no reason to quarantine the airplane, the passengers or staff.

“PHE can confirm there was no public health risk around the sad death of this individual.”