Ebola Lands in Britain

ebola-uk-risk

This morning, I woke up to the news that we’ve all been expecting since the summer: Britain has a confirmed case of ebola.

Despite the ‘screening’ at airports, someone has slipped through the net. And given that the net has holes the size of Africa in it, this is hardly surprising.

It transpires that Cameron’s screening could be performed by a couple of carefully trained cocker spaniels, if only they had opposable thumbs. Because all the screening consists of is… a questionnaire.

Did you know that it does not even include the taking of a temperature? And given that ebola is a haemorrhagic fever – the clue is in the name – a thermometer seems the most basic of precautions.

How it can possibly be, as we enter the sixteenth year of the 21st century, that worldwide governments did not get their inflated heads together last December, when this outbreak began? Think of the lives that could have been saved, think of the families that could have been spared horrific heartbreak, and think of the ebola orphans, who might still have had their mummies and their daddies with them this year.

It makes me unspeakably cross that the people with the most power in this world, are the ones who are hidden behind disinfected doors, issuing forth their decrees, like Herod. Only with not a wise man or woman between them.

Surely it is common sense, that when health workers return from an ebola stricken country, they go into quarantine for 21 days during the possible incubation period?

Back in the good old 20th century even pets were put into quarantine before vaccination passports existed for them, yet a nurse who has been mucous-membrane deep in protective clothing has managed to bring back a virus that is allegedly very hard to catch. She has sat on flights, transferred at airports, wandered through them, and presumably answered Cameron’s questionnaire.

“Have you been near ebola in the past few hours?”

“Yes, practically rolling it.”

“Do you feel ok?”

“Fine and dandy.”

“Great, come on in then!”

Some members of the public have expressed fury with the health workers – this is clearly wrong, how else can it be tackled if not for these brave people and their families? But you can empathise with the fury, because it is bred of fear. We cannot trust the people in charge, we have no control: we can simply sit and wait for the next headline.

First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 6th January 2014

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