Guest essay by Eric Worrall
What happens when climate obsessed politicians neglect real risks to public safety? A nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola after returning to Britain has accused British authorities of being negligent about biosecurity. My personal experience returning from an outbreak zone, in my opinion corroborates the nurse’s accusation of lax British biosecurity.
Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey says screening at Heathrow was chaotic
Nurse says Public Health England put public lives at risk by allowing her to fly back to Scotland without being examined.
Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who nearly died twice from Ebola, has said government health watchdogs were entirely responsible for the “catalogue of errors” that led to her being accused of putting the public at risk.
Just days after she was cleared of bringing the nursing profession into disrepute, she said the screening for potential Ebola infection at Heathrow airport was chaotic. Officials manning the special screening room could not cope with the numbers of NHS volunteers returning from lifesaving work in Sierra Leone and ran out of kits.
Public Health England breached its own rules when it allowed returning medics to take each other’s temperature, she said. When she alerted them to her elevated temperature, Cafferkey was unable to contact the infectious disease expert on call because it had the wrong number.
“I went out there to help save lives but I came back to a system that failed. I was made a scapegoat for a catalogue of errors. PHE were entirely responsible,” she told the Mail on Sunday. “They – not me – put public lives at risk by allowing me to fly [back to Scotland] before they had an opinion from an infectious diseases official,” she added.
I support Pauline’s assertion that British authorities are grossly negligent of biosecurity risks.
In December 2003 I travelled from Britain to Taipei on business, during the middle of a deadly SARS scare.
Taiwan was taking the risk to public health very seriously – every morning a doctor in the Foyer checked the body temperature of all the hotel guests. The airport, both incoming and departing, was bristling with thermal imaging cameras and medical people.
On my return trip on the 24th December, in Taiwan I ran the full gamut of the medical screening process. In Hong Kong there was a handful of orderlies taking people’s temperature, but they didn’t disturb anyone who seemed to be asleep. In my Amsterdam stopover (I flew KLM), nothing. In London Gatwick, there was a single customs guy reading a newspaper – they weren’t even checking passports, let alone the health of arriving passengers.
From memory the trip took 13 hours – if I had been infected before leaving Taipei, during the very early stages of infection I would have passed even the Taiwanese screening process. But I could easily have become contagious without realising, albeit with a detectable mild fever, by the time I reached Amsterdam, let alone Britain.
Britain has been very lucky with Ebola and SARS, and who knows how many other near misses. Sooner or later that blind luck will run out.