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Ebola scare in Australia: Gold Coast man isolated

From Australian News:  “A MAN who was rushed to Gold Coast University Hospital and isolated amid fears of Ebola virus this morning is ‘not particularly sick’, doctors say
The man, Michael Walsh originally from Warwick in WA, reportedly fell seriously ill in the Southport Watchhouse and told emergency crews he had just returned from The Congo two weeks ago.

Police sources confirmed a 27-year-old man was taken by ambulance with Ebola-like symptoms however Gold Coast Health infectious diseases director Dr John Gerrard said initial assessments suggest it is ‘exceedingly unlikely’ that he has the deadly virus.

They are still awaiting test results but said the man was also being tested for malaria, dengue fever and other tropical illnesses.  Dr Gerrard said the main symptom of Ebola was a fever and although the patient described symptoms of fever, doctors were yet to document one.

“He’s not particularly sick but I don’t want to say it’s impossible otherwise we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing,” he said.  “I really must emphasise the risk is extremely small.”

He said the man was more likely to have malaria and expected results this evening.  The family of Michael Walsh has said they “didn’t know” whether he had been cleared of the deadly virus.  They did not want to make further comment.

The man had been arrested at Chevron Renaissance, in the heart of the Surfers Paradise tourist precinct, for trespass overnight.  It is believed when the man was being bailed this morning he told officers he felt sick, and as a precaution paramedics were called.  It was then discovered he had recently returned from The Congo.  Police are waiting on further advice from health authorities on the risk.

Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Des Lacy said the man had been in a cell by himself but watchhouse staff had been ‘protectively cleansed’ as a precaution.  “At this stage, there is absolutely no confirmation that he has Ebola and we have been told there’s a very low-risk chance he has,” Supt Lacy said.

Gold Coast Airport is waiting for confirmation from the hospital before putting safety precautions in place.  The largest Ebola outbreak in history has ripped through Africa with 2,296 confirmed deaths from the virus. Thirteen people have died in The Democratic Republic of Congo up to August 25.

Paramedics were instructed to suit up in protective clothing before taking the man to hospital.  Gold Coast Health acting chief executive Damian Green said the patient had been identified by paramedics as ‘having symptoms of Ebola’ and he had been placed in isolation.

“Gold Coast Health is taking necessary precautions and has isolated the patient who is currently being assessed,” he said.  “Gold Coast Health has processes in place to manage such circumstances.

“Universal infection control procedures are in place and there is limited risk to patients and staff.  “Further information will be provided as clinical assessments are completed.”
A Gold Coast University Hospital spokeswoman added: ‘’Going by what the WHO (World Health Organisation) has been saying, we have recently done a review and we have an area within the hospital where the patient can be isolated.”

The man is yet to be confirmed with Ebola virus. Gold Coast residents are advised to remain calm.

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Royce Christyn
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