Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says New Zealand is well placed to detect and respond to Ebola if it were to reach the country.
This follows the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States. A male has fallen ill after travelling from Liberia, which is one of the West African nations affected by the current Ebola outbreak.
“The Ministry of Health assessment is that the risk to New Zealand from Ebola remains low,” says Mrs Goodhew.
Border screening is already in place for individuals arriving from West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. These controls are similar to those in place in comparable countries.
Since screening was introduced early in August there have been 47 people screened – none have had symptoms.
An expert advisory group has been established so the Ministry can continue to check its precautions are appropriate.
“New Zealand is fortunate to be protected by its geographic isolation; we have no direct flights from West Africa and we receive very few travellers from there,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Ebola is not easy to catch. It is not spread through the air, and it is not as infectious as the flu or measles. Infection spread requires contact with infected bodily fluids.
“Local and international expert advice, together with international experience of managing other viral haemorrhagic diseases, is that the Ebola would be well contained in countries with health services like New Zealand’s.”
Advice to the public and health professionals is available on the Ministry’s website www.health.govt.nz. Any traveller who feels unwell after returning home is encouraged to call Healthline on 0800611116 or phone their GP or hospital prior to visiting.
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129