UK to Send Troops, Aircraft and Ship to Tackle Ebola in Sierra Leone
Britain could be faced with the first ebola case in a matter of months warns health chief.

The UK should expect ebola cases within months, according to the country's chief medical officer.

The deadly virus has already claimed more than 4,000 lives in West Africa. The spread of the disease across international borders is a growing cause for concern, with suspected cases being reported in the US, Spain and Macedonia.

It is feared it is just a matter of time before Ebola reaches UK shores.

Chief medical officer Sally Davies said: "The big problem is in West Africa where the doubling rate is every four weeks and it really is going up and up, so it will not be surprising if we have spill over into this country. I would expect a handful of cases over the next few months."

A nationwide drill comprising an eight-hour simulation at locations across the country was implemented to test whether Britain is prepared to handle an outbreak.

The exercise, which was ordered by David Cameron as part of the UK's contingency plan, involved staff from hospitals, the ambulance service and Public Health England.

Ministers joined medical professionals in protective clothing, as actors simulated symptoms of the deadly virus.

The simulation demonstrated that procedures were in place to tackle any reports of the virus.

In one staged scenario a patient who collapsed at Gateshead shopping centre was assessed in a controlled environment and placed in isolation at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Samples were sent for testing at the Porton Down science laboratories in Wiltshire and, after returning an Ebola diagnosis, the patient was transferred to the Royal Free in London.

Following the drills the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "doubly reassured" the NHS could cope with any potential outbreak and was confident "robust plans" are in place if the disease reached the UK.

He said: "This is an extremely useful exercise and I feel doubly reassured that we have robust plans in place in the event that we get an ebola case in the UK.

"We will evaluate what went well and what we need to improve. This exercise is just one small part of our ongoing contingency plans for ebola. It builds on activity we routinely practise for a wide variety of illnesses and other emergencies."

The government recently announced that in an effort to thwart the spread of the disease passengers at major terminals will be checked for potential symptoms of virus. All ports in the UK will also be monitoring ships for any potential signs of Ebola in a bid to stop the virus spreading to Britain.

There is currently no effective vaccine for ebola, but Russia announced on Saturday (11 October) that it expected to produce three within the next six months.

In Spain, three more people are under observation in a Madrid hospital, taking the number currently being monitored for ebola symptoms to 16.

44-year-old Spanish nurse Teresa Romero, the first person known to have contracted the disease outside West Africa during the current outbreak, remains in a stable condition.

Around 4,000 people have died after contracting ebola which broke out in western Africa in March.

The UN warned that the number of recorded cases is doubling every week.

Earlier, the director of the Centers for Disease Control warned that unless action is taken, Ebola could become the world's "next Aids".