Ebola outbreak: Australia will not send health workers to west Africa

Monday, September 29, 2014
By Paul Martin

Foreign minister Julie Bishop says Australia could not bring people home if they contract the disease

Sunday 28 September 2014

Australia will not send health workers to west Africa’s Ebola outbreak zones because there’s no way to get them home safely if they catch the disease.

Médecins Sans Frontières and World Health Organisation have urged the government to increase Australia’s contribution.

But the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, insists Australia is pulling its weight and says the World Health Organisation has not asked for on-the-ground health workers.

She said the Australian Defence Force and health department advised it was not possible to safely evacuate infected health workers back to Australia.

“The Australian government is not about to put at risk Australian health workers in the absence of credible evacuation plans that could bring our people back to Australia,” she told reporters in Melbourne.

The government is negotiating with Britain and the US on evacuations.

The opposition health spokeswoman, Catherine King, said Australia should send a team of health workers.

“It should not be beyond the wit of the Australian government to strike a deal,” she told ABC radio.

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