Is New Zealand ready for Ebola?

Although NZ is not likely to have anyone with Ebola, our international airports are ready. Anyone who has been in a West African country in the last month is checked when they arrive here, to make sure they do not have a fever.

Our doctors and hospitals are also ready. If doctors think that someone may have Ebola, that person would be taken to hospital. Most hospitals have an isolation room where a patient stays alone. Hospitals in the main cities also have a negative pressure unit which has lower air pressure inside the room than outside. This means the contaminated air cannot go into the main hospital.

Staff would need to wear a gown, hat, a special mask which filters out viruses, visor, double gloves and boots. Nurses have a buddy – 2 nurses together and each watches the other to check they do not make mistakes.

While Ebola has killed about 4,000 people in Africa so far, people cannot catch the disease by talking to an infected person. The disease is not contagious before symptoms appear. It is not carried through the air so coughing or sneezing do not spread the disease. The virus is in body fluids like blood.

In many ways, Ebola is not as contagious as influenza (the flu) or many other diseases.


• contaminated (adj) – poisoned, dirty
• filter (v) and (n) – material like paper which allows liquid but not solids to pass through
• visor (n) – made of see-through plastic which protects the face
• buddy (adj, n) – friend
• infected (adj) – has an infection, has a disease
• contagious (adj) – someone else can catch the disease
• symptoms (n) – signs of a disease or illness e.g. fever

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