Ebola: UK tests man travelling from Nigeria, to hold emergency Cobra meeting

Patrick Sawyer
Tragic Ebola victim, Patrick Sawyer
Tragic Ebola victim, Patrick Sawyer

A man was tested for the Ebola virus in the UK earlier this week, but was found negative.

The Department of Health said he was checked in Birmingham after he reportedly travelled from Benin City, Nigeria via Paris to the Midlands.

He was isolated and subjected to a number of tests at a hospital in Birmingham after becoming “feverish”.

A spokesman added: “We’re well prepared to identify and deal with any potential cases, though there has never been a case in this country.”

Meanwhile, there are questions over the number of people who came into contact Patrick Sawyer, an American who died of the disease in Lagos last week, prompting fears the outbreak could spread in a city of over 20 million residents.

Mr Sawyer, a consultant for Liberia’s Finance Ministry, had been in Liberia for the funeral of his sister, who also died from the disease, and was on his way back to his home in the US.

The 40-year-old arrived in Lagos on July 20 and had suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea on two flights. He was put in isolation in hospital and died on Friday.

The disease, which can be fatal for up to 90 per cent of infected victims, has already killed almost 700 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Even with no recorded case of the Ebola virus, the UK Government is to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the “threat” to from the disease, the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has said.

Hammond said he would chair the meeting of the Cobra committee, which will begin coordinating Britain’s response to the spread of a disease that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa.

Cobra meetings are held in response to instances of national or regional crisis, or during events abroad with major implications for the UK.

Fears of a global outbreak were raised last week after a man exhibiting signs of the disease was allowed to leave Liberia on a flight to the international travel hub of Lagos, Nigeria, where he later died.

No meeting of similar significance has been called by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Speaking with BBC News, Hammond said: “At the moment we don’t think any British nationals [abroad] are affected and we are fairly confident there are no cases in the UK.

“But it is a threat, it is something we need to respond to and we will be doing so through the Cobra mechanism.”