Homerton Hospital carries out Ebola simulation exercises
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Homerton Hospital has run a simulation of what would happen if a patient turned up with Ebola – a “plausible” scenario according to its medical director.
Martin Kuper was asked about what could happen if a case of the haemorrhagic fever presented itself in the borough by councillor Sade Etti at the Health in Hackney scrutiny committee meeting at the town hall on Monday night.
He said: “It’s something we have thought a lot about, Hackney is one of the places where it is plausible someone could present.
“We have national guidance on how to triage and manage people who might have Ebola, we have implemented that fully.
“The guidance isn’t particularly digestible in its original form and we have made it into a procedure for our staff to follow, with instructions for our reception staff on what to do if it happens.
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“We have got a room where someone could be isolated, and the general plan that people are then triaged to specialist beds at the planned area.
“There are specific plans about how you do the blood tests.”
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He continued: “It is a worldwide problem and I think that the cases which have occurred in other places have shown us not to be complacent and so far as possible to prepare for it.”
Spain has plans to ramp up training for health workers and emergency services dealing with Ebola cases after a nurse in Madrid caught the virus after caring for infected patients.
On Sunday Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who cared for patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who introduced the illness to the US, also succumbed to the illness. And on Wednesday it was announced another Dallas nurse - who had boarded a commercial flight in the US the day before - had also come down with the fever.
All three had been wearing protective suits.
One simulation exercise has already been carried out at the Homerton and others are planned.
Screening of passengers arriving at Heathrow airport from Ebola-affected countries began on Tuesday, and will be rolled out to Gatwick airport and Eurostar next week.
With an incubation period of what the Centre for Disease Control said was anything up to three weeks, critics fear this will do little to contain the virus if an infected person enters the UK. On Monday however the CDC announced the incubation period could in fact be twice as long - 42 days - in a small percentage of cases.
There are no direct flights to the UK from the three worst-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.
Flights are still arriving from Nigeria, where there have been 19 confirmed cases of the virus and eight deaths since the first confirmed case there in July. But the virus may now have been contained there as no new cases have been reported since September 5.
The current crisis is the most deadly Ebola outbreak in history, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 4,000 people have died of the virus so far, mostly in Liberia.