Additional Ebola briefings for key hospital staff Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Additional Ebola briefings for key hospital staff

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a series of Ebola readiness briefings for key health sector staff in major metropolitan centres gets underway in Christchurch today.

"While the risk of Ebola entering New Zealand remains very low, it's important that we are continuously maintaining our levels of preparedness," says Dr Coleman.

"These briefings by the Ministry of Health are part of this - we are continuously following the international situation and updating our processes on the basis of the best possible scientific advice.

"It is likely that at some stage a person who has recently been in an Ebola affected country in West Africa will need to be tested for the virus - but it is much more likely that they will have another illness, such as malaria."

Canterbury DHB has already been training staff in the use of appropriate personal protective equipment and exercising what would happen if a person presented with Ebola-like symptoms. Today's briefing will build on this training.

Similar briefings are also planned for Counties Manukau, Auckland and Wellington DHBs later this month.

The number of people coming to New Zealand from countries affected by Ebola has dropped significantly with Nigeria no longer being regarded as a country of concern.

"We were screening about one person a day at the border. This has now dropped to three in the past 13 days," says Dr Coleman.

Since additional border screening started on 10 August 2014, the total number of people identified as having been in an Ebola affected country in the previous 30 days is 76. Only three of these have required a public health risk assessment - none required laboratory testing.