Thursday, October 16, 2014

For Now I Agree With Tony Abbott

Today I've been reading articles about the Australia government's hesitation in sending Australians to fight Ebola in Africa.  Here's one such article.

From what I've been reading, the flight from Africa to Australia is quite long.  There's a worry that when an Australian gets Ebola, the transfer back to Australia will take too long. 

Before sending people to Australia, Tony Abbott wants reassurance from a country closer to Africa, that they'll take in the sick Australian and help make them better again. 

I think that's fair.

According to the article, Australia has asked the UK and the US to take in their Ebola-infected personnel. So far they're not getting a yes. Have they gotten a no? Or have they just not gotten a response yet.

If it's a no..I wonder why.

In America's case, maybe we're just all so messed up and confused already with our own Ebola messes. I don't think we're thinking clearly. 

This morning I learned a school in Ohio has closed for a day to disinfect. Why? Because one of their teachers took a plane, and it was the same plane that an Ebola patient rode on.  But they weren't on the same flight! And the ebola patient wasn't not yet spewing fluids out of her body. She had a low fever.  No. It was probably not a brilliant idea for the CDC to give her the green light in riding the plane. But the risk of her giving the virus to someone else is incredibly slim.

If I try to give the worriers the benefit of the doubt, this is what I come up with: The Ebola patient uses her finger to pick out piece of spinach lodged between her front teeth. She gets spit on her finger. The spit has Ebola. She touches her tray. On a later flight, the teacher touches the tray; then touches her mouth. She has Ebola.  Can all that happen?  I don't think so, personally. But you never know. 

To believe it's going to happen is a bit paranoid. But fine. So just have the teacher keep track of her health for the next 21 days! If she develops a fever, send her home.  From what scientists know so far, you're not contagious until you have symptoms. And it seems people aren't much of a contagion threat until they're very ill.  

It would be a different story if there was a severely ill Ebola patient on the flight and she was vomiting and had diarrhea.  If there wasn't a thorough clean-up, that would be a true threat to the people who later took flights on the same plane.  In that case, I think it would be quite reasonable to request that the teacher stay home for the 21-day quarantine period.  I still don't think they'd need to close down the school to clean it. 

Anyway....back to Australia.

It really wouldn't make sense if America wasn't offering to help Australian patients. First of all, things are a huge mess in Africa.  I would guess the more help the better. Second, America is still allowing commercial flights in from Africa.  And the only assurance we're getting is that they're taking people's temperatures. Okay. Yeah. Thomas Duncan entered our country, and didn't get his Ebola fever until a few days later.  The nurse in Dallas entered Ohio without any signs of illness—no fever.  If she had stayed in Ohio longer, Ohio would have had a full-blown Ebola case.  

I think it's much less scary taking in patients who KNOW they have Ebola. They can be flown straight to the proper hospital with people who know how to handle things like this.

The only thing I can think of is the Australian Government doesn't want to send in Australians, so they're asking the question really quietly. Like maybe they sent this really long email about something else that's not really a huge issue, and they don't expect the American government to actually read it. Then they hide the Ebola question there. 

Or Tony Abbott calls Obama in a place where he has really bad phone reception. Then when the connection is all staticky, he quietly asks the question.

Obama says, What? I'm sorry. I didn't hear you.

Tony Abbott replies. I'll take that as a no


  1. The Australian government is trying to get a rock solid guarantee from European or US governments that they would take an Australian aid worker if they are infected with Ebola in West Africa.

    These governments aren't saying No, they just aren't saying yes with a guarantee. Which means that they can change their mind at the last minute. Which would be catastrophic if they go to airlift an australian with ebola out and at the last minute that country changes it's mind and says no.

    I think the reason these government are refusing to give this guarantee is because they fear the public backlash if a foreigner with ebola is transferred into their country. Especially given the high profile cases in the US and Spain of health care workers becoming infected.

    Given that, I also thing the Australian government is doing the right thing. It would be very irresponsible for a government to send people into high danger without a solid plan in place to evacuate those people when needed.

  2. Jason,

    The other thing...I think I read something saying that at the Ebola-ready/capable hospitals, there's a limited amount of beds. Something like that. Or maybe I dreamed it. I can't remember where I read it. I've read way too much lately.

    It makes sense what you say though...government saying yes, but there being no guarantee.

    Maybe the better action from Australia would be to donate more money. If not the government, then maybe someone like Clive Palmer or Gina Rinehart can help.

    I also read that Australia is promising to help in countries like Papa New Guinea if Ebola hits there.