Two stories are making the headlines at the present time – the continuing saga of the UK’s ‘porous borders’ and the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in parts of the African continent. If you put these two news items together, a frightening picture starts to emerge.
Ebola has now taken hold in parts of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, killing hundreds of people, according to figures from the World Health Organisation. However, these cases are only the ones that have been reported to the authorities; hundreds more may well have caught the virus and died a horrible, painful death in their own homes, possibly infecting other members of their family along the way. The disease has now spread to Nigeria, where a Liberian government official died after flying in to the country. Other people aboard that plane could have caught this virus from the Liberian and are now incubating this disease – potentially spreading it around their friends and families.
According to the WHO, Ebola is a ‘severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%’ which makes it one of the world’s most virulent diseases. It is transmitted through the body fluids of any person or animal carrying it. In hot weather, sweat is loaded with the virus. There is no cure and the infection can only be controlled through isolating the patient until the virus has run its course. But it can lie dormant for up to two weeks so even those who are carefully checked or screened at our borders may not show signs or symptoms of it but may be incubating it and may eventually pass it on.
Already we have seen suspected cases in Commonwealth Games athletes, although none has yet been confirmed. These are athletes who have a complete right to come to the UK as competitors for their country. And aid workers from the US who were helping the victims on the African continent have been confirmed as having the virus.
Think, then, of the thousands of immigrants who manage to avoid immigration control. What chance of “isolating the patient” if we do not know who he is or where he is? We have heard stories of how people are determined to enter the UK, whether they risk their lives by stowing away on the undersides of cargo lorries leaving Calais for Dover or, more usually now, by simply boarding the Eurostar on which they come directly into Paddington station in the heart of our capital. Who screens them there?
On Saturday, UKIP Daily reported on the new wave of immigrants desperate to get into the country. Many of them come from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan – yes, the other side of the continent of Africa, but this virus is spreading. If a carrier of this disease makes it to ‘Jungle 2’, the squalid tent city set up outside Calais, the conditions there are so primitive and unhygienic that Ebola could easily spread like wildfire and our little island will be seriously at risk – and who will stop it?
The government’s COBRA emergency committee has already met at No. 10 to see what can be done about Ebola but with our inability to control our borders and the lack of French will to control theirs, it seems there is little anyone can do.
If for no other, this surely is a first-class reason for us to take firm control our borders – and that means leaving the EU.
Photo by NIAID