Home / Local news / Sadiq Khan reassures Londoners over France problems : Bedbugs

Sadiq Khan reassures Londoners over France problems : Bedbugs

London mayor Sadiq Khan says everything is being done to ensure the bedbug infestation seen in France will not spread to the city’s transport system.

In Paris, the insects have been reported in schools, trains, hospitals and cinemas.

Mr Khan acknowledged it was a “real source of concern” for people that it may spread to London.

He told PoliticsJOE Transport for London (TfL) was disinfecting seats daily.

He added he had spoken to officials in France to see if any lessons could be learnt from their experience.

Mr Khan said: “I know people are worried the bugs in Paris could cause a problem in London and I’ve been in contact with TfL last week and this weekend, making steps to ensure we don’t have that problem.

“Regular cleaning of Tubes and buses, and I’m talking to the Eurostar as well, we have one of the best regimes for cleaning our assets… for a variety of reasons we don’t think those issues will arise in London – but there will be no complacency from TfL,” he added.

‘Obnoxious pest’

Bedbugs are small insects, with adults reaching about 5mm in length (less than a grain of rice) and are oval-shaped. They have six legs and can be dark yellow, red or brown.

They feed on blood by biting people, creating wounds that can be itchy but do not usually cause other health problems.

The insects often live on furniture or bedding and can spread by being on clothes or luggage.

Cross-Channel train operator Eurostar said it had not seen an “upsurge in bedbugs” on-board its trains.

“The textile surfaces on all of our trains are cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis and this involves hot water injection and extraction cleaning, which is highly effective in eliminating bedbugs,” its statement added.

“Any reports on hygiene matters are taken very seriously and our cleaning teams, in addition to the usual cleaning, will also disinfect a train on request or as soon as there is the slightest doubt.”

It said it had created a “preventive detection campaign” which was being “stepped up in the coming weeks”.

In Paris, BBC correspondent Hugh Schofield described the infestation as being seen as a plague “provoking a wave of insectophobia and raising questions about health and safety during next year’s Olympic Games”.

However, he points out that bedbugs increase over the summer every year.

“There are several factors, of which globalisation – container trade, tourism and immigration – is the most important. The bedbug – cimex lectularius to give its Latin name – is a domesticated creature. It goes where humans go”.