Ebola screening at Heathrow called a ‘joke’ as passengers simply bypass process

Passengers being screened at Heathrow (Picture: Public Health England/PA)

Ebola screening of passengers arriving in Britain from high risk countries was blasted as a ‘joke’ by one of the first passengers tested at Heathrow airport – as it emerged there could be 10,000 new cases a week worldwide within two months.

Filmmaker Sorious Samura was returning to the UK from Liberia where he was making a film about the deadly disease.

He said his connecting flight from Brussels was met by an official who said passengers might be screened as the health checks were introduced at the airport’s Terminal 1 on Tuesday.

An astonished Mr Samura, 51, said: ‘He even shook our hands. That’s something nobody does now in Liberia and infected countries.’

Mr Samura said he was only given a screening questionnaire when he told passport control he had been in Liberia.

Passenger Clive Patterson, aged 32, said the process should be compulsory (Picture: David Dyson)

He said most of the passengers from his flight from Liberia did not go into the screening room.

They just seemed to go through to customs and presumably out of the airport,’ he claimed.

‘I think it was a bit lax here. To be honest it was a complete joke,’ he added.

Fellow filmmaker Clive Patterson, 32, who was working on a documentary with Mr Samura, also volunteered to be screened.

He said: ‘We have been working, interviewing, people who are in the thick of it.

‘If you are going to make the effort and take this measure, you might as well make it compulsory.’

Passengers claim people bypassed the screening process (Picture: PA)

The screening comes as the World Health Organisation said 8,914 cases, including 4,447 deaths, have been reported in West Africa with a 70 per cent death rate. It predicted up to 10,00 new cases a week within two months.

Screening will extend to Gatwick and Eurostar at Saint Pancras over the next week.

However a Downing Street spokesman said it was compulsory for passengers travelling from risk countries to go through screening as part of ‘a robust and proportionate approach’ to ebola.

Dr Paul Cosford, director at Public Health England, said passengers who boarded an indirect flight to the UK from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone would be automatically flagged at passport control.

A terrified traveller who thought he could have ebola after a trip to Africa said an NHS 111 helpline advised him to drive himself to hospital last week.

Adam Griffiths, 24, from Swansea said staff at Bristol South Mead accident and emergency unit were ‘shocked’ by the advice.

It was later confirmed he did not have ebola and a spokesman for North Bristol NHS Trust said ‘we acted appropriately’.