Australia examines Ebola threat


Australia’s top medical officers met to discuss the Ebola threat in Sydney today in a bid to stop the crisis overseas spreading to this country.

Meanwhile, Queensland Health has activated an Ebola co-ordination centre with 18 doctors to lead the fight.

Australia’s strategy has been under attack with strong criticism from the Opposition and the Australian Medical Association.

Myles Holley reports.

TRANSCRIPT

The meeting continued late into the afternoon although the threat to Australia from Ebola is still considered low.

Nevertheless, responses are now in place to prevent and treat Ebola cases should they occur here.

Peter Dutton, Health Minister: “We have tertiary hospitals in each of the capital cities where we can isolate people when they present with Ebola.”

The Queensland Government is confident that it does have the facilities and skilled doctors required in this state.

Lawrence Springborg, Qld Health Minister: “We certainly are prepared and we certainly are working off the latest recommended protocols.”

The Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital is one of the centres dedicated to treat those who present with Ebola in Queensland.

It has an air-locked “high containment” room where the air can’t circulate through the building.

Nevertheless, rebel MP Bob Katter is still adamant that we are not properly quarantining those arriving from the African epicentre.

Bob Katter Federal MP: “In Australia we still do not have any protocol in place apart from an instruction that you will stay at home for three weeks. If that is a protocol then I am a martian astronaut.”

The Australian Government has so far refused to send health workers to West Africa.

It isn’t moving on that decision yet claiming there is no capacity to evacuate and treat them if they become ill.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister: “It’s a very serious, threatening and ominous outbreak.”

About 30 Australians are currently working in West Africa for organisations such as the Red Cross.

Myles Holley, QUT News.