With the help of the United Nations, the Gambia government had been making preparations for possible Ebola outbreak.
According to United Kingdom authorities, test for Ebola carried out on the dead female passenger turned out negative on Sunday afternoon. There were no symptoms of Ebola found on the woman but the prevalence of the deadly virus in West Africa had forced UK health authorities to carry out the test.
The woman, believed to be in the 70s, collapsed at the airport and later pronounced dead in hospital.
The Gambia Bird aircraft and staff were isolated as a precaution until the flight was cleared for its return journey. UK authorities said there was no reason to quarantine the airplane, the passengers or staff.
“There was no health risk to other passengers or crew, as the passenger did not have symptoms during the flight,” the Director of Global Public Health in England, Dr. Brian Mccloskey, told BBC.
Due to Ebola fight, the presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia pulled out of the first US-Africa summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. this week.
Ebola has so far killed 728 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year. The virus spreads through human contact with the victim’s bodily fluids. Its initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external harmorrhaging from eyes and gums. It can also lead to internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure. Ebola has 55% mortality rate.
Gambia Bird Airlines confirmed the Gatwick incident, reassuring its continuous willingness to work “closely with the public health and aviation authorities throughout West Africa, in the UK and internationally to take every possible precaution against allowing passengers who may exhibit symptoms of Ebola infection from boarding our aircraft. We have also enhanced our inflight procedures to further minimise the chances of infection.
“We will continue to act on the advice of the relevant authorities and our procedures remain under constant review. In the meantime, our thoughts are with the family of the passenger who was taken ill on Saturday, and we offer them our heartfelt condolences.”
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports speak of the presence of Ebola in the Gambia. Sources said two suspected cases have been reported at the Sir Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul. We will pursue the story and keep our readers posted on developments.