A 57-year-old nurse in Cairns hospital is under observation over fears that she might have the deadly Ebola virus.
The woman recently spent one month in Sierra Leone, working in a hospital over there as a volunteer for the Red Cross treating Ebola patients.
Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeanette Young, told a media conference in Brisbane this afternoon that the nurse returned to Australia on the weekend and remained in home isolation under the government’s Ebola protocol.
The health boss said the nurse did not have any symptoms or fever when she came home. This morning she developed a low-grade fever and was called in for testing.
“As recommended by national guidelines, this patient has been isolating herself at home and checking her temperature twice daily since her return, and today has reported an elevated temperature of 37.6 degrees,” Dr Young said.
“She’s done everything appropriately. She has not been out in the community in Cairns.”
Results are expected late tonight, after the blood has been flown down from Cairns to Brisbane for testing.
Dr Young said there was “no concern for any passenger on any plane she’s been on”.
“The broader community is not at risk of contracting Ebola virus disease regardless of whether this health care worker has the disease or not. While Ebola is a very serious disease, it is not highly contagious as it cannot be caught through coughing or sneezing; a person is not infectious until they are unwell with the disease.
“The risk of infection is extremely low unless there has been direct exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal such as vomit, blood or diarrhoea,” she said
Dr Young said the nurse involved had done media about her trip, which makes it likely that it’s Sue-Ellen Kovack.
More to come.
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