The health system is prepared for Ebola despite the risk of a case in Australia remaining very low, Health Minister Peter Dutton says.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has shot down claims Australia is not prepared for a case of Ebola, saying the comments are “a slap in the face” for health workers.
The Australian Medical Association is concerned about Australia’s preparedness and has called on the government to convene a meeting of experts to assess the nation’s readiness.
AMA president Brian Owler says he’s surprised Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Mr Dutton haven’t already done so.
But Mr Dutton said he is “very disturbed” by suggestions that Australia isn’t prepared and maintains the health system is as ready to deal with the virus as that of any developed nation.
“The suggestion … is a slap in the face for Australian health workers,” he told reporters after viewing isolation rooms at Royal Brisbane Hospital on Thursday.
Mr Dutton said Australian chief health officers and the chief medical officer have met on a number of occasions, as has the national security council of cabinet.
Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton have taken advice from the chief of defence, head of immigration and head of border protection.
“We have put in place plans which will make sure that the risk remains very, very low for our country,” Mr Dutton said.
More than 700 people arriving from west African countries have been detected at Australian airports.
So far, 11 suspected Ebola cases have been identified but all the patients tested negative.
Most of the estimated 4500 Ebola cases have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the US have also recorded cases.
Labor on Thursday renewed calls for Australia to send health workers to west Africa to help tackle the outbreak, but the government said it won’t until there are appropriate evacuation processes in place.
Australia has provided $18 million to help stop the spread of Ebola in west Africa.