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A woman who has been working as a nurse in Sierra Leone is being held in quarantine in Cairns Hospital after returning home to Australia at the weekend.

Health officials are reported to have confirmed that the nurse, 57, developed a fever on Thursday and is undergoing tests.is being tested for Ebola after developing a fever of 37.6 degrees Celsius since returning home from Sierra Leone.

Health officials confirmed the 57-year-old woman developed a “low grade” fever on Thursday, and was taken to Cairns hospital to be assessed by specialists.

The woman is said to have been identified by a Red Cross colleague as Sue-Ellen Kovack who had been exposed to the virus while working in Africa for a month.

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said the woman returned to Australia over the weekend, and arrived at her home in Cairns on Tuesday.

At the time of writing, the nurse’s test results were expected in a few hours.

The case in Cairns comes as Australian officials revealed that quarantine officers at the country’s airports have tested and cleared six people suspected of having Ebola in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Tony Abbot told 3AW that it was not impossible that Ebola would come to Australia but careful monitoring was in place for people arriving from West Africa.

The official line from the Australian Department of Health is that the authorities are closely monitoring this disease outbreak overseas and Australia’s border protection agencies are alert to watch for people who are unwell both inflight and at airports.

As part of routine procedures, incoming flights to Australia have on-board announcements, asking passengers who are feeling unwell with fever, chills or sweats to alert a crew member.

All airport border agencies are aware of the Ebola outbreak and have been provided guidance by the Department of Health to identify any passengers presenting Ebola symptoms in flights or at airports. Border officers also provide information and advice to passengers at the border who are unsure of what they should do if they are feeling ill. The health of people who have originated their travel from affected parts of West Africa is being checked.

It concludes, “The Australian Government will continue to closely monitor the situation overseas and will continue to assess the efficacy of our border measures.”

The Department says the outbreak of Ebolavirus disease (EVD) in West Africa is now larger and more serious than any previous outbreak. The situation was declared by the WHO to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 8 August.

Widespread and intense transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is continuing, and the situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone is deteriorating. As of 1 October 2014, there were 7,492 clinically-compatible cases acquired in West Africa, of which 4,108 were laboratory confirmed, and 3,439 died (case fatality rate 46%). This includes a case imported to the United States, a case imported to Senegal and limited transmission in Nigeria.

 


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Australian nurse in Ebola quarantine in Cairns
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