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October 2014

2 nurse in protective equipment jpeg
Royal Melbourne Hospital infection prevention nurses Lucille Dosvaldo and Sharon McIlduff suit up to treat Ebola.

Victoria ready for Ebola virus threat

Victoria is well-prepared if a case of Ebola virus disease should be suspected and detected, says Minister for Health David Davis.

‘The Department of Health has developed the Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan which has now been issued to metropolitan, regional and other health services and stakeholders including general practitioners.

‘The plan outlines the exact actions that will be taken by the Department of Health, Commonwealth border agencies, Ambulance Victoria, any health service and, in particular, the two hospitals that will receive a suspected case.

‘The Royal Melbourne Hospital is the designated facility for assessment and management of patients suspected to have a viral haemorrhagic fever such as Ebola virus disease and is fully prepared,’ Mr Davis said.

Professor Mike Richards, infectious diseases specialist at the RMH, said the hospital had a viral haemorrhagic fever plan and was equipped to handle such cases.

‘The plan requires the patient to be isolated in a single occupancy negative pressure room.

‘Treatment and care would be provided by staff trained to use infection control precautions including specific personal protective equipment,’ Professor Richards said.

‘The RMH has held joint briefing sessions with the Department for staff and undertaken successful exercises in the careful handling of a potential suspected case.’

The Royal Children’s Hospital will provide care for under-16s.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester said the Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan provided information to safeguard the health of a suspected case and of staff caring for a case.

‘The plan contains a simple set of steps frontline clinicians can take should a suspected case present at their service after returning from an affected country.

‘Extensive border control measures are in place including questionnaires for people returning from affected countries and Melbourne Airport is prepared to respond to a suspected case.

‘All people returning from affected countries are given a card telling them to look out for symptoms for 21 days and to attend an emergency department or GP if they do become unwell.

‘In response to the identification of the West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease, the Department has updated its protocols and plans in line with current evidence regarding the outbreak and actions required to prevent transmission of infection.

‘Australia has one of the best border protection systems in the world checking people who are unwell in flight and at the airport.

‘Ebola virus disease is a notifiable and quarantinable disease in Australia,’ Dr Lester said.

•           For more information visit http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/Victorian-Ebola-Virus-Disease-Response-Plan--September-2014.