Federal MP Bob Katter says a Cairns woman suspected of having been infected with the deadly Ebola virus has put the nation at risk.
Federal MP Bob Katter says a Cairns woman suspected of having been infected with the deadly Ebola virus has put the nation at risk because of her “humanitarian ambitions”.
The outspoken MP, whose electorate of Kennedy includes the southern area of Cairns and the Cairns airport, has slammed quarantine authorities after it emerged a 57-year-old nurse who had worked for the Red Cross in Sierra Leone was being tested for Ebola.
Registered nurse Sue-Ellen Kovack returned to Australia at the weekend after a month working in Sierra Leone, one of the countries hardest hit by the epidemic which has so far claimed almost 3900 lives across five west African countries.
Ms Kovack returned home to Cairns on Tuesday, where she remained in quarantine as per normal protocol. On Thursday, she was admitted to hospital with a “low-grade fever” with results of tests expected to be known by Thursday night or early Friday.
But Mr Katter said it was “unbelievable and incomprehensive” how a person could get into Australia from an Ebola infected country.
“There cannot be any compromise with this,” Mr Katter said.
“If you want to go to one of these countries, however laudable your motivation, I am sorry but when you return to Australia, you must be quarantined for three weeks – not home quarantined.”
Mr Katter said Australian aid workers travelling to west Africa, including Ms Kovack, were putting Australia at risk.
“We love these people, and we honour these Australians for being self-sacrificing, but compared to the risk they create for our country, it is not remotely comparable. One person’s moral and humanitarian ambitions are being carried out at a very grave cost to Australia.”
However, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young praised Ms Kovack’s work with the Red Cross.
“I think she’s an amazing lady to go to Africa and provide that service,” Dr Young said.
Ms Kovack lived in Cairns with a flatmate, but Dr Young said it was highly unlikely anyone else was likely to contract the virus if she was infected.
Ms Kovack admitted she was nervous before she left, but wanted to help.
“People put up their hands because they have an interest in their fellow man, that’s why I’m going,” she said last month in an interview.