The threat to public health by proposed cuts in staffing and screening at Heathrow and Manchester airports was highlighted in the last issue of Workers. Within days of the article Heathrow was at the centre of emergency procedures to identify and track hundreds of passengers travelling back from Saudi Arabia as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had been found in passengers.
MERS is a lethal SARS-like virus which has now taken on global significance due to the volume of air traffic. More than 150 people have died from it worldwide. It places fresh emphasis on public health services at Heathrow and other airports in danger of being diluted, deskilled or understaffed.
Unison’s fight against the proposed cuts continues. It’s not a scare story, but deals with potential public health disasters of epidemic proportions. ■