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UK 'on Ebola alert', Clegg's mental health promise and smoking rates decline

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

Lots of headlines about the UK preparations for a potential outbreak of Ebola this morning, after a nurse in Spain tested positive for the virus.

The Mirror says four NHS hospitals are ‘on standby to deal with a mass outbreak’ as scientists predict there’s a 50% chance of the virus coming here ‘in 16 days - October 24’.

Apparently, chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies has urged ‘every clinician in England’ to take a full travel history from all patients with a fever.

And the Independent leads on the call from Norman Baker to look at screening travellers for Ebola - something that has so far been resisted but will be discussed at a Cobra meeting today, the paper says.

Elsewhere, the BBC says Nick Clegg’s speech to the Liberal Democrat conference will focus on the introduction of waiting time targets for mental health.

And the Guardian reports that smoking has fallen to its lowest level since records began in the 1940s.

Apparently the prevalence of smoking fell among the over-18s from 19.8% in 2012 to 18.7% in 2013, although statisticians are cautious about the news because of changes in the way data are collected.

Deborah Arnott, from ASH, said: ‘The statistically significant decline in adult smokers shows that the Government’s tobacco control plan is working. However, over 80,000 people still die from smoking every year in England and every week hundreds of children take up smoking.

‘Tough new measures to regulate tobacco, like plain standardised packaging, are needed if we are to drive down smoking still further.’

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