The Ebola outbreak sweeping West Africa has nerves on edge in the United Kingdom as a woman in Cardiff, Wales, has been placed under quarantine after flying back from the region, with U.K. health officials fearing she may have been exposed to the deadly virus.
The quarantine report out of Wales comes amid reports that approximately 30 other people in the U.K. were recently tested for the Ebola virus. But the results in each case turned up negative. Though British health officials say they are keeping close watch on anyone recently returning from the West African region — particularly from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which are the three African countries hot hardest by the Ebola outbreak — the country’s flagship airline says that it will stop flying to the Ebola-affected area, at least for the time being.
“We have temporarily suspended our flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone until 31 August 2014 due to the deteriorating public health situation in both countries,” said British Airways in a statement released Tuesday to the media. “The safety of our customers, crew and ground teams is always our top priority and we will keep the route under constant review in the coming weeks. Customers with tickets on those routes are being offered a range of options including a full refund and the ability to rebook their flights to a later date.”
The woman in Wales, who has not been named publicly, volunteered to remain quarantined in her Cardiff home, where doctors from Public Health Wales are checking her health on a daily basis.
The woman does not show any symptoms of Ebola hemmorhagic fever, and PHW said that Wales currently has no Ebola cases. But it can take as long as three weeks for symptoms of the gruesome and most often fatal disease to materialize. Doctors say they plan to keep the Welsh woman under close observation for the next 21 days.
Public Health England Doctor Brian McCloskey said that the Ebola testing of 30 people, most of them British citizens, is to be expected given the massive outbreak in West Africa which has now killed 887 people.
“We have advised all frontline medical practitioners to be alert to signs and symptoms of Ebola in those returning from affected areas,” McCloskey said. “Following such advice we would expect to see an increase in testing. It is important to remember there has never been a case of imported Ebola in the UK.”
McCloskey pledged that if a positive Ebola virus test does turn up in the U.K., the public would be quickly alerted. Procedures are in place to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the U.K., health officials said.