The Australian nurse feared to have contracted Ebola says medical staff should volunteer to help in the battle against the virus in Africa, despite government misgivings.
57 year old Sue Ellen Kovack was released from Cairns hospital on Monday after it was confirmed that she had not been infected with the Ebola virus.
The nurse had returned home from Sierra Leone in West Africa, where she worked as a volunteer in the battle to contain the deadly outbreak, last Tuesday. On Thursday she was admitted to Cairns hospital after developing a fever, raising fears that she had contracted the Ebola virus and brought it to Australia.
The relieved nurse was released from hospital after a second test for the virus returned negative.
In a public statement, Kovack said Australians need to send more help to the stricken African region and urged medical professionals to volunteer.
“It has been so inspiring and it has really kept me going in the past few days to know there’s growing public support for action to help people affected by Ebola in West Africa, she said.
“Most importantly to me, I’m sending a message to my fellow medical professionals who are thinking about heading over to treat the sick and work at bringing Ebola under control: please, please do it.
The nurse’s call to arms comes as the Australian government defends its current position of not sending personnel to fight the virus in West Africa, saying that the potential risk is presently too great due to logistical reasons.
On Saturday, foreign minister Julie Bishop told reporters, “I do not have in place a guarantee that should an Australian health worker – sent there by the Australian government – contract Ebola, they would be able to be transported or treated in a hospital either in the region or in Europe.
“And until I have that in place we will not be sending Australian health workers, she added.
Australia’s federal government has so far pledged AUD$18m to combat the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) is sending a letter, signed by eminent professors from the medical field, to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, demanding Australia contribute direct help for the region affected by the Ebola outbreak.
“The best means of protecting Australia and other high-income countries is for robust control efforts at the source of the outbreak, the letter says.
“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a global health catastrophe which threatens future economic prosperity, regional political stability and human health globally. It is in our national interest to ensure the epidemic is contained.
IMAGE: Volunteers pick up bodies of people who died of the Ebola virus in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Africa. (FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR/AFP/Getty Images)