ELIZABETH JACKSON: While a Queensland nurse has tested negative
for the deadly Ebola virus, many people are wondering just how prepared
Australia would be should the virus reach our shores.
New South Wales has for weeks been testing its own response plan. And most states and territories have long-held procedures in place to contain infectious diseases. Now they're working together as more is learned about the current Ebola outbreak.
AM's Sarah Sedghi reports.
SARAH SEDGHI: Nearly 4,000 people have died from Ebola; local economies and trade have been crippled, there are food shortages and day-to-day life has been stifled as authorities try to manage the outbreak.
The United Nations special envoy for Ebola, Dr David Nabarro, says if the global response isn't scaled-up, the virus will be here to stay.
DAVID NABARRO: This outbreak has moved out of rural areas and has come into towns and cities. It's no longer just affecting a very defined geographical location; it's affecting a whole region and it's now also impacting on the whole world.
SARAH SEDGHI: Isolated cases have appeared outside of West Africa as aid workers have returned home for treatment.
In Australia, a Queensland nurse who showed Ebola-like symptoms tested negative.
But health authorities says there have long been procedures in place should diseases like Ebola reach Australia.
For the last few weeks, New South Wales has been testing its response plan.
Dr Vicky Sheppeard is New South Wales Health's director of cmmunicable dseases.
VICKY SHEPPEARD: So we have a viral hemorrhagic fever contingency plan. So Ebola is one of the viral hemorrhagic fevers. We've had that plan for around 20 years and, obviously over the past few months we've updated that to make sure it's contemporary with existing practice and facilities.
So once that plan's updated we've done a state-wide, what we call a desktop exercise, to look at the coordination between ambulance, public health and clinical services and laboratories as well, so that the communication pathways, the transport and all the other aspects that goes into coordinating a response, are as ready as they can be.
And then at Westmead Hospital, Westmead is our designated viral hemorrhagic fever hospital, so any suspected or concerned Ebola patient would be managed there.
SARAH SEDGHI: And so do you feel confident, should a case reach New South Wales, that it could be treated and contained?
VICKY SHEPPEARD: Oh, certainly. We're very well equipped and ready. Obviously, as cases arise in other countries we're watching very closely and refining the arrangements we have here. We're learning from the overseas experience. So we're continually trying to improve the arrangements that we have in place.
SARAH SEDGHI: Doctor Vicky Sheppeard says all states have been working together to make sure guidelines are updated so Australia is as prepared as it can be.
ELIZABETH JACKSON: Sarah Sedghi reporting.