Independent News and Media

Ebola patients from Pacific Islands could fly to Australia

IF EBOLA reaches the Pacific Islands, Australia will fly patients into Darwin for treatment.  

In an interview with Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday morning, Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton told presenter Neil Mitchell he wants to provide as much support as possible to West Africa, but can only really help if the virus reaches closer to home. 

"It would not be responsible for the government to send health care workers into harm's way when the advice from Defence and from Health is that, if they contracted the virus, we would not be able to provide medical attention to them," he said. 

Labor and the Greens have both criticised the Abbott government for not providing more help to deal with the crisis that has killed more than 4,440 people mainly in the worst affected areas of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.  

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has stated it would be "reckless" to send in health workers as an infected person would not survive the flight back to Australia.   

But Mr Dutton said in the event of an Ebola outbreak in the Asia-Pacific region, Australian medical workers would rightly help.   

"If there is an outbreak in our region, heaven forbid Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands, European health workers understandably won't be coming to our part of the world, we will be responding," he said. 

"I think that would be the expectations in our region and indeed our country. 

"If we could not support them adequately in country and there was a proper plan for that person to be treated in Darwin... then we would exercise that capacity."    

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