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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Government – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Returned healthcare worker being tested to rule out Ebola

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says New Zealand is well placed to respond to a patient who needs to be tested to rule out the Ebola virus.

“The patient has recently been in Sierra Leone as part of New Zealand’s contribution to the international response to Ebola,” says Dr Coleman.

“Since returning home to New Zealand, the patient has become unwell. Based on the patient’s symptoms, the Ebola virus needs to be ruled out. I am advised that it is quite possible they are suffering from gastroenteritis or some other illness such as malaria. Test results will be available in 24 to 48 hours.

“The only person who has been in direct contact with the patient during the potentially infectious period has been the patient’s partner. The partner is being monitored according to internationally recognised protocols.

“Ebola is not easy to catch – transmission requires direct contact with an infected individual and only occurs through contact with blood and other body fluids.

“People with Ebola are not infectious until they are displaying symptoms. If the health worker does have Ebola, they will not have been infectious while travelling as the individual was not symptomatic at that time.

“New Zealand is well placed to handle and respond to any such case. This eventuality has been foreseen and has been very carefully planned for.

“While we wait for the test results I encourage the media to respect the patient’s privacy and allow the healthcare workers caring for them the space they need to do their job.”

Summary of events to date:

  • The patient left Sierra Leone on Sunday where they began self-monitoring.
  • After becoming unwell on Friday morning the patient reported to the local Public Health Officer – as part of their daily self-monitoring.
  • The patient is being transported from their home to Christchurch Hospital by Iso-pod where they will be cared for in one of New Zealand’s four speciality isolation facilities.
  • Blood samples will be sent to a high security reference laboratory in Melbourne for testing. It is expected to be 24-48 hours before a result is known.
  • The patient’s partner is now self-monitoring as a precaution.




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