The case of a patient admitted to a Queensland hospital with suspected Ebola has shown the national health strategy is working well, experts say
The Ebola scare on the Gold Coast shows Australia is well prepared to manage a potential case of the deadly virus, experts say.
A 27-year-old man was isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital on Thursday amid fears he had contracted Ebola, a type of haemorrhagic fever.
He recently returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been seriously ill since.
Doctors say it’s unlikely he has the virus, which has killed more than 2200 people in West Africa since it was first detected in March.
“Australia has robust border protection systems and our infection control mechanisms in hospitals are first-rate,” a federal Department of Health spokesman said.
“The testing of this patient in Queensland is an example of our national health strategy working well.”
The spokesman said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) had weekly discussions on the Ebola outbreak and local and national response arrangements.
State and territory chief health officers had issued specific guidance for their hospitals, paramedics, general practitioners and state-based quarantine and medical staff, he said.
Emergency departments and doctors throughout Australia have been reminded to be alert for Ebola in patients with fever and a history of travel in affected areas in the 21 days before symptoms appear.
Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases physician at the Australian National University Medical School, said the case was a reminder to healthcare professionals to be vigilant about Ebola.
“Even if this isn’t Ebola, this case will give the health service an opportunity to see if the protocols can be successfully implemented or have steps that still need to be ironed out,” Prof Senanayake said.
“Feedback of the outcome of this by the Gold Coast hospital to other health jurisdictions is important so everyone can tighten their protocols in the event of another case appearing on our shores.”
Dr John Gerrard, head of infectious diseases at Gold Coast Health, said the patient would remain in isolation as required by the universal infection control procedures.
Patients with suspected Ebola must be placed in a single room and clinicians entering the room must wear gloves, a gown, eye protection and a face mask.
In a study published on Thursday in the Medical Journal of Australia, a team of University of Sydney experts say the Ebola risk to Australia remains small.
“While Ebola virus is a scary proposition, with good infection control and vigilant health authorities, outbreaks will not occur in this country,” Dr Grant Hill-Cawthorne and his co-authors wrote.