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France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'

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France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'
A passenger arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport is checked for Ebola. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP
16:04 CEST+02:00
French president François Hollande said on Friday that measures to counter the risk of Ebola reaching France will be increased with tests to be carried out on people arriving in France on “all forms of transport”, meaning boats as well as planes.

France is already carrying out checks at airports on passengers arriving from those countries in West Africa hit by the Ebola epidemic, but Hollande said on Friday those checks will also be introduced on “all modes of transport” to counter the risk of the disease.

“France must have control systems in place that should not simply apply to air traffic, but all modes of transport, including maritime. This is what we will put in place,” Hollande said at a press conference at the EU summit in Brussels.

France's health minister later clarified that the checks would involve taking the temperature of passengers arriving in France by boat from West Africa. 

These boats "will be checked, which means that people who will get off, sailors or passengers, will have their temperature taken," said the minister Marisol Touraine.

Hollande also called for people not to “catastrophize" around the growing Ebola epidemic, nor fall into "inaction".

“Catastrophizing will only produce panic,” he said. “Ebola needs to be treated in Africa and around the world,” he said.

France is yet to report its first case of Ebola but in recent weeks there have been several false alarms, notably when a nurse, who treated an Ebola patient fell ill in Paris.

She was admitted to hospital and isolated in a special ward, but tests later revealed she did not have the disease, that has claimed nearly 5,000 victims, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

France's Institute of public health surveillance (InVS) said there has been a total of 480 suspected cases of Ebola reported in France since June.

However only 17 of those were serious enough to be classed as “possible cases”.

None of those turned out to be positive, but with a case being confirmed in New York on Friday, many see it as only a matter of time before France confirms its first victim of Ebola.

Scientists in the UK predicted it would happen before the end of October.

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