Screen­ings aim to con­tain ebola threat

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Street Watch - By JON BAS­SETT

RE­VIEW­ING WA nurses and doc­tors’ ebola screen­ing after vol­un­teer­ing in East Africa was part of a reg­u­lar na­tional tele­phone con­fer­ence last Fri­day.

In­fected Scot­tish nurse Pauline Caf­fer­key flew home with the dis­ease from Sierra Leone two weeks ago.

“Reviews are rou­tinely sched­uled, but Caf­fer­key was on the agenda in case,” WA Health Depart­ment ebola spe­cial­ist Paul Essler said.

The depart­ment uses twicedaily SMS calls over 21 days to check the tem­per­a­tures of about 22 West Aus­tralians, mostly min­ing work­ers and three WA health pro­fes­sion­als, who have re­turned from ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea where there have been at least 8600 ebola deaths.

Mr Essler said while no screen­ing was guar­an­teed, “thou­sands” had flown from West Africa dur­ing the out­break with­out caus­ing sec­ondary in­fec­tions.

Minework­ers are low risk be­cause they did not care for ebola suf­fer­ers and min­ers’ em­ploy­ers had them tak­ing their tem­per­a­tures up to six times daily after re­turn­ing.

“I think it is im­por­tant for peo­ple to un­der­stand that you are not equally in­fec­tious dur­ing the course of the ill­ness, and you are very con­ta­gious just be­fore you die when the symp­toms are so ap­par­ent,” Mr Essler said.

Bri­tain, which is re­view­ing its screen­ing after the Caf­fer­key case, will treat Aus­tralian vol­un­teers with ebola.

For­eign Min­is­ter and Curtin MHR Julie Bishop said se­cur­ing Aus­tralians treat­ment had al­ways been Can­berra’s great­est con­cern, be­fore $23 mil­lion for the Aspen Med­i­cal-run ebola clinic in Sierra Leone was an­nounced in Novem­ber.

“And that is why the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment was very care­ful to en­sure we had guar­an­tees in place so that our health pro­fes­sion­als were able to work there, but know that treat­ment op­tions were in place, should that be needed,” Ms Bishop said.

Sierra Leone girl Ami­nata Ban­gura (11) was the first Aus­traliantreated ebola pa­tient to be re­leased from the clinic, after los­ing eight fam­ily mem­bers to the dis­ease, while Ms Caf­fer­key was crit­i­cal, but sta­ble, with ebola in London’s Free Hos­pi­tal last week.

THE ES­SEN­TIALS

Ami­nata Ban­gura leaves her hand­print on a sur­vivors’ wall at the Sierra Leone clinic.

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