A man who sparked an Ebola-virus scare on the Gold Coast has been cleared of the deadly disease.
Queensland’s emergency preparedness plans have been shown to be sound after a case of Ebola virus on the Gold Coast was ruled out, the state’s top doctor says.
A 27-year-old man triggered contagious disease protocols and a “widespread” reaction from the community after complaining of vague Ebola-like symptoms in the Southport watch house on Thursday morning.
The man, named by News Corp Australia as Michael Walsh, had informed authorities that he’d returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa in late August.
He worked as a miner, but the department was unable to detail his exact travel route.
The incubation period for Ebola is between two and 21 days.
An outbreak of the fatal virus in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria has killed more than 2200 people.
Mr Walsh had spent four hours in custody after being arrested for trespassing at Surfers Paradise.
He spent most of Thursday in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital before blood tests returned a negative result for Ebola virus in the evening.
Health officials, including the hospital’s director of infectious diseases, Dr John Gerrard, sought to reassure the public before the results.
He had maintained that the chance of the patient having contracted Ebola was extremely low.
“The patient was managed in a textbook fashion and I think it’s a great credit to our staff as well as the ambulance officers in the way that they dealt with this patient,” Dr Gerrard told reporters outside the hospital.
The Ebola virus was very difficult to transmit because it was not airborne, Queensland’s chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said.
“You need to have exposure to secretions from someone – vomit, diarrhoea, sweat,” she said.
“That of course has not occurred with this person, as he’s not had symptoms resulting in producing secretions.”
Dr Young said it would be up to the treating team on the Gold Coast to determine the man’s treatment options based on his condition.
She insisted Queensland remains prepared for an outbreak of Ebola virus, should a case ever make its way into the state.
But she said fewer than 50 people return from west Africa to Queensland each week and the risk was low.
Precautionary measures were also in place at airports, Dr Young said.
“Specifically for people who’ve started their journey in west Africa, they’re pulled aside and asked some specific questions.”
Federal health minister Peter Dutton agreed the incident showed emergency services personnel in hospitals are well trained and equipped to deal with any future case.
“I want to assure the Australian public that while the threat to Australia is low, we have contingencies in place and response plans in each of the states and territories.”