13 Mar 2015

Health worker being tested for Ebola

9:38 pm on 13 March 2015

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has revealed a health worker is being tested for Ebola after their return from Sierra Leone.

A health worker from Sierra Leone's Red Cross is sprayed with disinfectant in Freetown in November 2014 (file photo).

A health worker from Sierra Leone's Red Cross is sprayed with disinfectant in Freetown in November 2014 (file photo). Photo: AFP

Dr Coleman said the worker became unwell after returning to New Zealand.

Jonathan Coleman.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman Photo: RNZ

He said the testing was being done to rule the virus out, and it was possible they could be suffering from another illness.

The person's partner was the only person who had been in direct contact and they were being monitored.

Dr Coleman said the health worker's privacy needed to be respected.

"People with Ebola are not infectious until they are displaying symptoms," he said.

"If the health worker does have Ebola, they will not have been infectious while travelling as the individual was not symptomatic at that time.

"New Zealand is well placed to handle and respond to any such case. This eventuality has been foreseen and has been very carefully planned for."

The Government has released the following information:

  • The patient left Sierra Leone on Sunday, where they began self-monitoring.
  • After becoming unwell on Friday morning, the patient reported to the local Public Health Officer - as part of their daily self-monitoring.
  • The patient is being transported from their home to Christchurch Hospital by ISO-POD, where they will be cared for in one of New Zealand's four speciality isolation facilities.
  • Blood samples will be sent to a high security reference laboratory in Melbourne for testing. It is expected to be 24-48 hours before a result is known.
  • The patient's partner is now self-monitoring as a precaution.