herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Ebola 'joke' puts Dublin Airport into lockdown

Plane at Dublin Airport
Plane at Dublin Airport

DUBLIN Airport went into lockdown when a passenger on board a flight from Milan joked he had Ebola.

Three people were arrested after the incident which unfolded shortly before 1pm yesterday.

It's understood that a security threat was sparked when a 56-year-old male passenger on board claimed he had Ebola after writing it on a coffee cup.

Passengers on the Aer Lingus flight were held on the plane for almost 50 minutes in the security alert.

Gardai from Ballymun were called to the scene at Dublin Airport and a full emergency protocol kicked in.

There were 142 passengers on board at the time.

The passenger on board a filght from Milan to Dublin had shown a plastic cup to a flight attendant marked 'attentione Ebola' (warning Ebola).

The flight attendant notified the captain who immediately contacted the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

The Airport Police placed a cordon at the aircraft which was parked at a stand and the HSE were notified and emergency protocols were invoked.

A male passenger (56), along with females - aged 51 and 23 - were taken for questioning to Ballymun Garda Station.

The aircraft remained on the apron for one hour while three of the passengers were medically examined.

Following consultation with the HSE it was established there was no evidence of a health risk.

At approximately 2.15pm the crew and passengers were permitted to disembark and the cordon removed.

emergency

The three passengers were being questioned at Ballymun Garda Station last night.

It's understood that at least two of the individuals were family members.

Dublin Airport Authority said it was a "minor security" incident.

The alert came just one day after the HSE staged a dry-run in the case of an emergency where a patient presented with Ebola.

Healthcare workers were dressed head-to-toe in protective hazmat suits with helmets as they prepared to receive a pretend patient at the Mater Hospital in the city centre.

A section of Berkley Road outside the hospital was cordoned off as gardai with flashing sirens led the ambulance to the hospital.

The ambulance doors swung open and the stretchered case was brought into the hospital.

It was all part of a test of the hospital's National Isolation Unit's ability to cope with a case of Ebola.

The major incident simulation was based on a scenario where an individual presents at the hospital with a suspected case of the disease.

It's was centred around testing its preparedness for an outbreak of the disease.

The real-time response exercise took place at 12 noon on Wednesday.

"Other countries have done this. It was all supervised so that we can critique all health workers to see if they are doing things properly. Better to make mistakes in a dry run before the real case arrives," said Dr Jack Lambert, Mater Hospital infectious disease consultant, prior to the dry run.

hospital

Several false alarms have already taken place, including one at the Mater last week when a woman with flu-like symptoms was rushed there from West Dublin by paramedics in hazmat suits. She was tested and soon given the all-clear having been taken to the National Isolation Unit in the hospital as a precaution.

In a statement the Mater said it was conducting the exercise as part of its "major incident planning".

Ambulances, Dublin Fire Brigade and gardai as well as hospital staff were all involved. A spokesman said the exercise was successful and had been of "significant assistance".

The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa where approvimately 5,000 people have died.

hnews@herald.ie

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