Tony Abbott has praised the humanitarianism of Australia’s Ebola volunteers but says he’s not planning to send any health workers to tackle the epidemic.
Tony Abbott has defended a government decision not to send Australian health workers to Ebola-ravaged west Africa.
He says there’s a world of difference between volunteering and being forced to tackle the deadly epidemic.
Australia has so far resisted calls to deploy health personnel into the outbreak zones, saying it is unable to ensure the treatment or evacuation of its staff.
The prime minister praised those volunteering with non-government organisations such as Doctors Without Borders for their “selfless humanitarianism”.
However, he said the government won’t send doctors and nurses into harm’s way without being confident all the risks are managed.
“There’s a world of difference between praising the selflessness of volunteers … and ordering Australian personnel to go into a situation without the kind of risk minimisation strategies that any responsible Australian government would have to put in place,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Brisbane.
Red Cross worker and nurse Sue Ellen Kovack sparked Ebola scare in Queensland last week when she returned from working in Sierra Leone with symptoms.
Initial tests have cleared the 57-year-old of Ebola but she remains in hospital isolation until at least Monday, with a second round of testing scheduled for Sunday.
Queensland MP Bob Katter accused Ms Kovack of putting the country at risk through her “humanitarian ambitions”.
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said on Saturday she deserved a pat on the back.
Screening measures are being ramped up at international airports around the nation – despite the Health Department saying the risk of an Ebola outbreak remains low – and as it emerged 11 Australians had been tested and cleared.
Mr Shorten said while Ebola was a topic of concern in the community, people shouldn’t be unduly worried.