Ebola unit established at NZ hospital
New Zealand is "not immune" to the arrival of the deadly Ebola disease and may send military or humanitarian assistance overseas to help combat its spread, Prime Minister John Key says.
Mr Key this afternoon said the likelihood of the virus reaching New Zealand remained low but "you have seen a situation where at least potential cases have gone to Australia so you can see that we're not completely immune from that".
Appropriate checks were currently in place at airports "but if we start getting to the point where we feel as though there's not enough being done then again we'll consider that matter".
"The threat really for us is greater if we start seeing a case in our nearest neighbour Australia or locations where New Zealanders travel a lot to, like the United States."
The Government was taking a number of precautions to prepare for any suspected cases developing here.
"There's a unit established at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, we've changed the designations around Ebola and we continue to work with our offshore partners.
"We're taking it very seriously."
Mr Key said New Zealand may offer humanitarian or military assistance overseas to help fight the disease.
"Internationally you can see that people are going to work pretty hard to try and contain it in the event that the disease was to mutate which is obviously a much more serious potential risk and so that's something we will consider but we haven't taken any advice on that yet."
- Adam Bennett
11 tested for Ebola in Australia in recent weeks
Eleven people in Australia have been tested for Ebola in recent weeks, officials revealed today, as a nurse became the latest to return negative blood samples for the deadly virus.
There were fears that the disease may have breached the country's borders when a Red Cross nurse who worked with patients of the virus in Sierra Leone reported a low-level fever on Thursday after returning to Australia.
But blood tests on Sue-Ellen Kovack came back negative, although she is still only 10 days into the 21-day incubation period during which infection can happen.
"That's an enormous relief for her and for everyone," said Queensland state chief health officer Jeannette Young.
"And it absolutely confirms that there was no risk to anyone at any stage when she returned back to Cairns. The plan now is that we will keep a very close eye on her because she still is a bit unwell."
National Health Minister Peter Dutton revealed that Kovack was one of 11 people who had undergone testing for Ebola.
"Already we've had 11 cases that have presented across the country that have all been negative," he told reporters.
"We have put in place plans in major tertiary hospitals around the country that if we do have a positive case, we will be able to deal with that case."
He added that Australia's chief medical officer, head of the defence force and immigration department officials were all advising the government on how to respond to the growing Ebola crisis around the world, with screening now in place at airports.
"We've also got additional information and advice being provided on planes as people are coming into the country and that provides a world-class response and probably ahead of some of the other developed nations at the moment," he said.
The world's largest outbreak of the disease has killed 3,865 people out of 8,033 infected so far this year, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organisation's latest count.
The spillover of the virus -- with the first death in the United States and the first case of infection in Spain -- has raised fears of contagion in the West.
On Thursday, an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that strong measures must be taken to prevent the disease from becoming the world's next AIDS epidemic.
More contacts of Spanish nurse hospitalised
Seven more people have been admitted to a Spanish hospital for monitoring for Ebola, including two hairdressers who had contact with a nurse infected with the deadly disease, health officials say.
The nurse, Teresa Romero, helped treat two elderly Spanish missionaries who died after returning from west Africa with Ebola.
The 44-year-old tested positive for the disease on Monday, making her the first person known to have caught Ebola outside Africa.
Romero went on leave after the second of her Ebola patients died on September 25 at Madrid's La Paz-Carlos III hospital, which Spain has designated to handle Ebola cases.
She started to feel ill on September 29 but was not admitted to hospital until seven days later, creating a large window of time in which other people may have been exposed.
Five women and two men were admitted to the hospital for monitoring today as a precaution, the hospital said.
They included three nurses and two hairdressers who had contact with Romero while she was on leave from her job.
One person previously under observation at the hospital has been discharged.
In total there are now 14 people isolated at the hospital including Romero who is the only person confirmed to have the disease.
Australian nurse tests negative for Ebola
A Queensland nurse has been cleared of Ebola, Queensland Health says.
Cairns nurse Sue-Ellen Kovack had returned to Brisbane after spending a month volunteering at an Ebola hospital with the Red Cross in Sierra Leone.
The 57-year-old was admitted to Cairns Hospital yesterday with a "low-grade fever" raising fears she may have become infected with the deadly virus.
Queensland's Chief Health Officer said today that blood tests had returned negative results and no virus was detected in Ms Kovack's blood. However she will remain under observation.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said the negative test result was heartening but the World Health Organisation required three full days of negative tests.
"Let's keep our fingers crossed for the patient involved," he told reporters in Canberra.
Sue-Ellen Kovack did everything right in making sure she didn't endanger anyone else, Queenland's health chief says.
Dallas hospital defends actions
The Texas hospital that treated a Liberian man who died of Ebola has defended its actions, saying medical staff did all they could to save him.
The statement was issued a day after Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola and followed accusations of unfair treatment by members of Duncan's family.
Duncan was the first person diagnosed of Ebola in the United States and the first to die in a US hospital of the haemorrhagic fever that has killed 3900 in West Africa this year.
Yesterday Duncan's nephew Joe Weeks told ABC News he felt Duncan had received "unfair" medical treatment.
Unlike three of the American patients who were infected with Ebola and transported back to the United States for treatment, Duncan was not given a blood transfusion from a survivor of Ebola.
The effectiveness of this treatment is unknown, but the World Health Organisation supports it because it is believed to convey potent antibodies from a survivor to a patient."
Mr Duncan did not receive the same type of serum transfusion as the patient in Nebraska (NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo) because his blood type was not compatible with the serum donors," Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said.
Duncan was given an experimental drug, brincidofovir, on Saturday, almost a week after he was first hospitalised.
"The investigative drug was administered as soon as his physicians determined that his condition warranted it, and as soon as it could be obtained," the hospital said.
US military planes arrive at epicentre of Ebola
Six US military planes have arrived at the epicentre of the Ebola crisis, carrying more aid and American Marines into Liberia, the country hardest hit by the deadly disease.
At a World Bank meeting in Washington, the presidents of several West African countries struggling with Ebola pleaded for help, with one calling the epidemic "a tragedy unforeseen in modern times".
Alpha Conde of Guinea said the region's countries were in "a very fragile situation."
"This disease is today an international threat and deserves an international response."
Tom Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he was reminded of the start of the Aids epidemic. "We have to work now so this is not the next Aids." Frieden said.
The fleet that landed outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia consisted of four MV-22 Ospreys and two KC-130s. The 100 additional Marines bring to just over 300 the total number of American troops in the country, said Major General Darryl A Williams, the commander leading the US response.
'British national dies of deadly virus in Macedonia'
British officials are investigating reports that a UK national has died in Macedonia f a disease believed to be Ebola.
The patient was admitted to the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Skopje showing symptoms associated with Ebola and died shortly afterwards. Tests to confirm the disease have yet to be completed.
The British Foreign Office (FCO) is now looking into the reports from a senior Macedonian government official.
A second Briton had shown symptoms of the virus, the official told Reuters on a condition of anonymity.
"We are aware of the reports and are urgently looking into them," an FCO spokesman said.
If confirmed, the person would be the first British national to die from the deadly virus, after nurse Will Pooley was cured of Ebola last month.
It was unclear last night whether the British national was living in Macedonia or had recently travelled there from one of the African countries battling the outbreak of the disease.
The reports came as Downing Street announced enhanced screening for Ebola would be introduced at Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and Eurostar terminals following advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
Two months ago the Macedonian authorities announced they had introduced prevention measures at all airports. Passengers with ebola-like symptoms were to be immediately isolated and taken to the Clinic for Infectious Diseases.
Macedonian airports started confronting suspected cases of Ebola on Wednesday, according to Dr Jovanka Kostovska, of the Commission for Infectious Diseases.
Guinea player leaves team for Ebola fears
Guinea forward Lass Bangoura says he left his national team to calm the fears of his Spanish club teammates who were worried about the Ebola outbreak.
Lass was called to play for Guinea in its 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana on Friday, which had been moved from Guinea to Morocco because of concerns about Ebola.
But Lass says "when they told me my teammates were worried, I made the decision to come back, speak with them, and tell them that they shouldn't be afraid."
The first cases of Ebola were confirmed in Guinea in March. The outbreak has killed more than 3800 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Ebola: Nurse's costly mistake
The nurse in Madrid who became the first person infected with Ebola outside West Africa repeatedly reported her symptoms to health authorities but was fobbed off with paracetamol before being finally diagnosed with the deadly virus and put in isolation.
Maria Teresa Romero Ramos admits she probably caught the virus when she touched her face with a contaminated glove as she removed her protective suit after visiting the room of the infected missionary priest who was repatriated to Madrid from Sierra Leone.
Spanish health officials struggled to contain the virus and placed two more nurses in quarantine and dozens of others under observation for symptoms of Ebola.
Ms Romero is at "serious risk" of dying from the disease after her condition worsened, officials said. So far the only person to have been diagnosed after catching the disease outside Africa, she "is at this time very ill and her life is at serious risk as a consequence of the virus," Madrid regional president Ignacio Gonzalez told the Spanish parliament.
A spokeswoman for the La Paz-Carlos III hospital where Romero is being treated told reporters earlier: "Her clinical situation has deteriorated but I can't provide more information," because of the express wishes of the patient.
Read more: Ebola scare just across the Ditch
'Our people are dying'
The presidents of three Ebola-stricken West African nations have made urgent pleas for money, doctors and hospital beds and representatives of nations gathered for a World Bank meeting promised to send more aid quickly.
"Our people are dying," said President Ernest Bai Koroma. He spoke by video from Sierra Leone to an Ebola summit at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.Koroma described devastating effects of "this evil virus" - children made orphans, doctors and nurses dying, an overwhelmed medical system that can't keep up with the need.
The world's response hadn't kept pace with the spread of Ebola, Koroma said, and "a tragedy unforeseen in modern times" is threatening everyone.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a 20-fold surge in international aid to fight the outbreak and representatives gathered for a World Bank pledged medical evacuations for health care responders who catch the virus."For those who have yet to pledge, I say please do so soon," he said. "This is an unforgiving disease."
Read more: Summit will thrash out Ebola support
What you need to know
As of Wednesday, Ebola has killed about 3800 people in West Africa and infected at least 8000, according to the World Health Organisation. The virus has taken an especially devastating toll on health care workers, sickening or killing more than 370 of them in the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - places that already were short on doctors and nurses.
The way it spreads: The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids - blood, sweat, vomit, faeces, urine, saliva or semen - of an infected person who is showing symptoms.
The Treatments: There are no approved medications for Ebola, so doctors have tried experimental treatments in some cases, including drugs and blood transfusions from others who have recovered from Ebola. The survivor's blood could carry antibodies for the disease that will help a patient fight off the virus.