EU ministers to hold anti-Ebola talks

2014-10-13 14:44

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Brussels - The European Union has called a meeting of health ministers on Thursday to discuss the possible screening of travellers from Ebola-hit West African countries, officials said.

The talks are designed "to co-ordinate the actions of member states" in the absence of any agreement on whether to monitor travellers to Europe, the officials said.

Britain is the only European nation so far to introduce such measures, with screening at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and on Eurostar trains from France and Belgium.

The United States and Canada had also announced new screening measures at major airport hubs to check travellers for symptoms of the deadly disease, and pressure has grown for other nations to follow their lead.

"The idea is for [EU] member states to discuss screening upon arrival in the European Union", European Commission health spokesperson Frederic Vincent told reporters.

He said the meeting would focus on co-ordinating efforts since any introduction of screening at airports and train stations would be a sovereign decision by a member state.

A European source said the discussion will also touch on "the effectiveness of screening procedures on departure from the affected countries".

The goal is to also "reassure Europeans" at a time when the infection of a Spanish nurse last week in Madrid raised concerns throughout Europe, the source added.

Fewer than half a dozen member states, including France and Belgium, have direct air links with high-risk areas of West Africa.

The World Health Organisation has so far not recommended screening travellers from Ebola-hit countries, which carry it out themselves, usually by having officials take the temperatures of travellers.

Read more on:    eu  |  canada  |  us  |  ebola

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