AN elderly woman who died shortly after arriving in the UK from West Africa has tested negative for the Ebola virus.
The woman, thought to be in her early 70s, arrived at Gatwick Airport on a Gambia Bird flight from The Gambia and health officials said she was tested for the deadly virus that has struck in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The passenger, whom a spokesman for Public Health England said showed no symptoms during the flight, collapsed at the airport shortly after arriving and was later pronounced dead. But tests for Ebola have since proved negative.
Dr Brian McCloskey, director of global public health at Public Health England, said: “Yesterday morning a passenger became unwell after disembarking a flight at Gatwick from The Gambia, and sadly died in hospital.
“There was no health risk to other passengers or crew, as the passenger did not have symptoms during the flight. It was considered very unlikely to be a case of Ebola but testing was done as a precaution, and was negative.
“The correct procedures were followed to confirm there was no reason to quarantine the airplane, the passengers or staff.
“PHE can confirm there was no public health risk around the sad death of this individual.”
A Gatwick spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a passenger on board a Gambia Bird flight on Saturday August 2 became unwell after disembarking the aircraft, was treated by experienced medical airport staff at the scene but sadly later died at East Surrey Hospital.
“Given the origin of the flight, the hospital carried out tests for Ebola and other infectious diseases as a precaution. The tests came back negative.
“As a precaution, the aircraft was isolated, as were relevant airline and airport staff. At every stage, we took advice from Public Health England, which cleared the aircraft for its return journey.”
No cases of imported Ebola have ever been reported in the UK.
According to Public Health England, Ebola is a form of viral haemorrhagic fever and currently more than 1,000 cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, of which there have been more than 650 deaths.
It is the first documented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and it is the largest ever known outbreak of this disease.