Alex Salmond: NHS is well prepared for Ebola

THE NHS is “well prepared” to deal with any possible cases of Ebola, despite the low risk of the virus being found in Scotland, the First Minister has said.

Although it is unlikely, Salmond stressed that Scotland will not be complacent. Picture: Michael Gillen

Alex Salmond was speaking after the Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee met last night to discuss the country’s response to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in west Africa.

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Mr Salmond and Health Secretary Alex Neil were both at the meeting, along with experts in infectious diseases from Health Protection Scotland and senior officials form the Scottish Government.

Ministers were given an update on the situation in the three worst affected countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, as well as more details of how the authorities in Scotland are preparing for any possible cases and the steps being taken by the oil industry to protect workers who are returning from west Africa.

Mr Salmond said: “The risk of an Ebola case in Scotland remains low. However, we are far from complacent, and I am confident that Scotland’s health service is well prepared to deal with any suspected Ebola cases.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that all appropriate checks are in place to protect the people of Scotland.”

He stressed Scotland must do everything possible to help contain the virus and bring it under control, with £500,000 already having been donated to help combat Ebola.

The First Minister said: “The Scottish Government’s approach to Ebola is two-fold. First and foremost, we must make sure that Scotland is as prepared as possible to deal with the risk of an Ebola case appearing on our shores.

“Secondly, we must do all we can to help with the situation in west Africa to try and contain this infection and ultimately bring it under control. We have already donated £500,000 to help the World Health Organisation’s efforts to combat Ebola and we stand ready to provide further assistance as and when required.”

Mr Neil said: “Scotland has four infectious disease centres which are ready to deal with any suspected cases of Ebola-type diseases. We have ensured that guidance has been issued to health professionals to ensure that they are well equipped to know how to deal with any suspected cases, and we are well stocked with all the necessary protective equipment.

“Scotland has dealt with infectious diseases in the past, including swine flu and a case of viral haemorrhagic fever, similar to Ebola, in 2012. I am fully confident that we have the systems and expertise in place to cope well in this instance if required.”