How the UK government is responding to Ebola

The government is closely monitoring the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, and is taking action at home and abroad.

Response in the UK

The risk of Ebola to the UK remains low. The virus is only transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.

You can also read a factsheet about how the disease is transmitted and what Public Health England is doing to protect public health in England.

The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish government websites describe what action is being taken by the devolved administrations.

The NHS is prepared

UK hospitals have a proven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases. We have well developed and well tested NHS systems for managing unusual infectious diseases, supported by a wide range of experts.

These include experts at the Royal Free Infectious Disease Unit, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Screening at ports

At Heathrow and Gatwick, UK Border Force staff work with PHE to identify those registered with the ‘PHE returning workers scheme’ who may have been at higher risk of being exposed to the Ebola virus and refer them for screening. Other passengers at lower risk will be asked to self-refer for screening.

At all other ports of entry to the UK, information is collected from passengers coming from an affected country and then given to PHE for a screening risk assessment to be carried out by telephone.

Response in Africa

The UK is working with the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the wider international community to combat Ebola at the source in the African countries affected.

Britain is playing a leading role, particularly in Sierra Leone where it can best help to fight the crisis. The UK has committed a £427 million package of direct support to help contain, control, treat and ultimately defeat Ebola.

This is in addition to the UK’s support to international agencies like the World Bank and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund as well as regular cargo flights – part funded by the EU – which are carrying UK aid to Sierra Leone.

The UK’s direct support includes:

Medical help on the ground

Support for medical agencies in West Africa – such as the Red Cross and World Health Organisation – to provide direct care and expertise, and to train health workers.

Deployment of medical experts

Hundreds of NHS staff who have volunteered to travel to west Africa and help those affected by Ebola.

Public Health England has also deployed a team of experts including epidemiologists to provide expert advice to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health on managing the outbreak.

Treatment centres and beds

Supporting more than 1,400 treatment and isolation beds to combat the disease, protect communities and care for patients.

This includes building 6 Ebola treatment centres across the country, all of which are now operational and treating patients. It also includes support for safe isolation spaces in those areas where they are most needed.

Training frontline workers

Training over 4,000 healthcare workers, logisticians and hygienists including Sierra Leonean Army and Prison staff, led by UK military personnel who ran the UK-led Ebola Training Academy in Freetown.

Community care units

The roll out of community care centres where people who suspect they might be suffering from the disease can seek swift, accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. Crucially this will ensure that people who do have Ebola are isolated as quickly as possible to help limit the spread of the disease.

Safe burials

Providing £10 million to boost the capacity of burial teams to respond quickly, supporting more than 100 teams across the country. We are also supporting charities on the ground to work with communities to develop new, safe burial practices.

Help to find hidden cases

The UK is backing Sierra Leone’s own Western Area Surge to track down hidden cases of Ebola through logistical support and vehicles to get around.

Emergency supplies

Practical items such as food aid, medical kit, clean blankets and chlorine for hygiene and sanitising, reaching out to families cut off in quarantine.

Scientific research and testing

Emergency research to understand how Ebola spreads, and how to stop it. Plus building, running and staffing 3 new laboratories in Sierra Leone to double the number of diagnostic tests that can be carried out every day.

Vaccine trials

Support to fast-track the human trials of an Ebola vaccine, that could immunise health workers and others to prevent the virus spreading further.

Military support

The sending of 750 troops to help build treatment centres, provide logistical support, engineering expertise and hands on help – as well as the deployment of Naval ship RFA Argus which can carry 3 helicopters to meet crucial transportation needs.

Logistical hub

The UK will set up a forward command and control logistical hub in Sierra Leone that will provide the backbone of infrastructure, commodities, training and management needed to scale up the response.

Rapid release funding

A £5 million emergency fund for aid agencies working on the ground and in need of financial help to prevent disease and keep treatment centres open.

Support for health services

Financial support to strengthen the country’s own health systems in Sierra Leone and Liberia and to help with government coordination.

Improved public information

Help to increase the awareness and understanding of the disease within local and remote communities, including radio messaging programmes.

International diplomatic efforts

Sierra Leone and the UK has called on governments and international donors around the world to join up in a concerted effort to contain, control and ultimately defeat the Ebola outbreak.

Aid matching UK public donations

The first £5 million of public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal on the Ebola outbreak will be matched by UK aid.

Help for businesses to bounce back

Financial backing for small and medium businesses to help get the economy growing once more.

Advice for travellers

The government advises against all but essential travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea except for those involved in the direct response to the Ebola outbreak.

Get the latest travel advice for Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Advice for medics

Read the clinical management advice and guidance.

Advice for aid workers

If you’re joining the emergency response, get the latest advice for humanitarian workers.

How you can help

The best way to help those hit by the outbreak is to donate to our partners who are helping on the ground:

Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres


Save the Children