AUSTRALIA has plans to send field hospitals and medical workers to Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific should the Ebola virus spread to our part of the world.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said today that Australia had the equipment and capacity to respond, as it had responded to the Bali bombings.
Speaking to the media on Australia’s response, Mr Dutton echoed other Coalition ministers in accusing Labor, which has criticised the government refusal to send medical teams to West Africa, of “playing politics with Ebola”.
He called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to rein in his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, who said this morning that the government was not trying to arrange evacuation plans for any Australian medical mission.
Mr Dutton said the government could not responsibly send medical teams without a way of evacuating any person who might become infected.
The government believes anyone who falls prey to the virus would not survive the 30-hour trip back to Australia, and extraction arrangements with other nations must first be made.
Speaking after a teleconference between the commonwealth’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, and state chief health officers, Mr Dutton denied that the government was considering mandatory detention for travellers arriving from West Africa.
He said Australia was well prepared to deal with any case of an infected person arriving in Australia. If someone arrived on a plane with the infection, they would be isolated and taken to designated centres in each state to be treated.
A tracing procedure would be put in place, starting with those in might have come in contact with that person. This would start with passengers on the plane who sat in front, behind, or next to the infected person.
He emphasised that the threat from Ebola remained very low in Australia. Unlike the flu, Ebola was not transmitted by coughing or sneezing, but only be an exchange of bodily fluids.
Certain cultural practices in Africa increased the likelihood of transmission, but this did not occur in Australia, he said.
Tony Abbott again defended Australia’s refusal to send teams of health workers or defence personnel to Africa to tackle Ebola.
“There’s a world of difference between volunteers going and displaying selfless humanitarianism, which I praise, and the government ordering Australian defence personnel to go to an area where we don’t have the capacity to evacuate people,” the Prime Minister told reporters today.
Australia has been criticised for not providing enough assistance to battle and contain the virus, which has killed 4500 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Labor believes Australia should more actively support the global fight against Ebola, citing the World Health Organisation’s 60-day countdown to get the virus under control.
But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison accused Labor of proposing to put Australian medical personnel in “harm’s way” by sending them to fight Ebola in west Africa.
Ms Plibersek butted heads with Mr Morrison over the issue on Nine’s Today Show this morning.
“At the moment, (the government) are discouraging people that want to help,” she said. “I know you’re not trying to find one (an extraction plan).”
Mr Morrison said the opposition should not “play politics” with Ebola. “It’s disappointing,” he said of Labor’s call for government-backed aid missions.
Read at source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/ebola-crisis/australia-has-plans-to-tackle-ebola-in-png-and-pacific/story-fnpqlos3-1227093840591?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheAustralianNewsNDM+%28The+Australian+|+News+|%29
EBOLA PATIENTS FROM PAPUA NEW GUINEA COULD BE FLOWN TO DARWIN FOR TREATMENT
Brisbane Times Latika Bourke October 17, 2014
Pacific island residents infected with Ebola could be flown to Australia for treatment, Health Minister Peter Dutton says.
Mr Dutton flagged the possibility during an interview with Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday.
Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/ebola-patients-from-papua-new-guinea-could-be-flown-to-darwin-for-treatment-20141017-117hqf.html
EBOLA: AIRPORT SCREENINGS, ALERT SYSTEMS IN PLACE TO PROTECT AUSTRALIA
ABC News Sophie Scott 17 October 2014
While the Federal Government says it will not send troops or medical personnel to fight Ebola, at least 12 Australians are already on the front line of the outbreak in Africa.
Meanwhile, a range of new precautions to prevent the deadly virus entering Australia have been put in place.
Australia has been screening passengers returning from West Africa since early August, Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Baggoley said.
Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-17/how-prepared-is-australia-for-ebola/5821696