Health chief seeks to reassure George over Sierra Leone ship arrivals to Falmouth

Posted on: 23rd October 2014

Health Chiefs have today sought to reassure the public that two ships arriving from Ebola affected Sierra Leone in to Falmouth in the coming weeks will be properly screened and proportionate measures taken, following questions raised by Health Select Committee member and West Cornwall MP, Andrew George.

Mr George raised the issue at the Select Committee Ebola Inquiry yesterday with questions to Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director, Public Health England; Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer; and Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at Department For International Development – who all attended the Committee Inquiry.

Mr George received the following response from Paul Cosford this morning:-

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for sharing yesterday the local concerns about the ships en route to Falmouth from Sierra Leone, which we understand are due to arrive in the middle of next month.  I wanted to assure you that PHE colleagues locally are aware of this and will be engaging proactively with the ships’ captains and crew. Specifically, they will:

reiterate to the ships owners their responsibility and potential liability for ensuring their captains provide complete and transparent declarations in the maritime declaration of health forms;

email/fax a copy of the UK port screening questionnaire to the captains to complete for each person on board, preferably after departure, and send it back to us ahead of time. This questionnaire will be adapted as appropriate from that used in airports;

–   daily radio contact in the last 4-5 days prior to the vessels’ arrival, the receiving port/Maritime and Coastguard Agency will have daily crew health updates by radio with the captains; and

temperature screening on arrival, we will consider temperature screening of all people on board before allowing unrestricted access to the population.

I hope this is reassuring but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or concerns.

Best wishes

Paul Cosford

Director for Health Protection and Medical Director


Mr George added, “Precautions need to be effective and proportionate. We will keep this under review and I will report back to the Health Select Committee.”