A passenger jet has been quarantined at Gatwick Airport after a passenger flying in from Sierra Leone collapsed as she left the plane.
The flight crew have spoken of their concerns for their own health and the health of the other passengers after the woman exited the flight “sweating and vomiting,” only to collapse on the gangway and die in East Surrey Hospital in Redhill on Saturday.
While officials are carrying out tests to see if the 72 year-old woman was carrying the highly contagious Ebola, health officials are desperately racing to trace anyone who had contact with the passenger either on the ground or in the air on the Gambia Bird flight. This includes the other 127 passengers, flight crew, ground crew and other airport staff.
The latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has already killed 256 people in Sierra Leone as well as 826 in West Africa in total. One anxious worker at Gatwick said: “Everyone’s just petrified. We’ve all seen how many people have died from Ebola, especially in Sierra Leone, and it’s terrifying.” Describing the terrifying moment the woman collapsed, the airport worker said: “The woman was sweating buckets and vomiting. Paramedics arrived to try and help her. The next thing everybody was there… emergency crews, airfield operations, even immigration. They closed down the jet bridge and put the aircraft into quarantine. They took everyone’s details, even the guy who fuels the aircraft.”
A spokesman for Public Health England said: “Public Health England is aware a passenger arriving on a flight from The Gambia that landed at Gatwick airport on Saturday fell ill shortly after disembarking. The passenger was taken to hospital and sadly died. In line with standard procedures, tests are being undertaken to determine the cause of death. The patient’s symptoms suggest that Ebola is very unlikely but as a precaution this is one of the tests being undertaken. The patient was not symptomatic on the plane and therefore there is no risk of Ebola being passed on to either flight crew or other passengers. England has world class health care and disease control systems which are active permanently, regularly tested and proven to be effective. As such, if the UK does see a case of imported Ebola, this will not result in an outbreak in this country.”