A Cairns woman suspected of having been infected with the deadly Ebola virus after returning from west Africa is said to be in good spirits.
A Cairns woman suspected of having been infected with the deadly Ebola virus after returning from west Africa remains in good spirits, the head of the Australian Red Cross says.
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.
Australian Red Cross Head of International Program Peter Walton on Thursday said Ms Kovack remained upbeat despite her situation.
“She’s doing well, but obviously she just has to play a bit of a waiting game at the moment,” Mr Walton said.
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.
Mr Walton said it was vital Red Cross aid workers were available to help combat the Ebola crisis, but everything possible was done to reduce the risk to them.
“It’s a tribute to the bravery and courage of many health workers and aid workers that they do go to very difficult environments,” he said.
“We do all we can to mitigate all the risks attached to that.
“But certainly given a situation and an epidemic such as Ebola, it’s absolutely imperative that we do our part to try to contain it.”
He said Ms Kovack was well-regarded and had followed stringent isolation procedures on returning from west Africa a week ago.
“She went over to west Africa as a clinical nurse, and very well-regarded professional in that regard,” Mr Walton told reporters.
“I think it’s a tribute to her professionalism that she has followed that to the ledger of the guidelines, and hence why she presented to Queensland Health authorities.”
All aid workers that return to Australia, including those on Ms Kovack’s program, were required to present to a local health authority before going into 21 days of isolation where they monitored their own symptoms, he said.
“With Ebola, it does require a display of symptoms before there is any risk of an infection at all,” Mr Walton said.
“Once again may I stress the spread of Ebola is through bodily fluids. You cannot catch it through coughing or sneezing.
“So the risk to the community and the risk indeed to this aid worker are still low.”