Julie Bishop: the deadly Ebola virus is spreading, and terrifying – deploy our military-trained experts to help before it wipes out a generation
I've never been more devastated in my life. Last week I returned to Perth after working with the health ministry in Sierra Leone – witnessing first hand how the deadly Ebola virus is spiralling out of control and killing hundreds.
It's terrifying, and to be honest I'm not sure anyone knows when or how it'll end. What I saw will stay with me forever – in some places there aren't enough ambulances to pick up those infected or bury the dead.
There are less than 30 isolation beds in the capital city Freetown, where close to 200 people have already been infected. Over a thousand Sierra Leoneans have lost their lives to the virus nationwide. Health workers are dealing with a virus they're not equipped or trained to dealt with on this scale. Just yesterday we lost another Sierra Leonean doctor to the virus - and we don't have that many doctors to lose.
For once there's something tangible that Australia can do to help in this crisis. Australia has trained biological hazard military units that could help contain this deadly virus – the same kinds of units the UK and US governments are sending in to help. I'm asking Julie Bishop and the Australian government to immediately send a military unit equipped with engineers, logisticians, and medics, to set up a field hospital in Sierra Leone to be run as an isolation centre for Ebola patients.
We've already had a scare on the Gold Coast with a suspected case. In reality, it's unlikely Ebola will ever reach our shores like it has there – but what's happening in West Africa right now is the start of a global health and security crisis we've not seen before.
Deploying a unit trained to deal with biological hazards like Ebola will help the Government of Sierra Leone government and World Health Organisation get control of this virus – and mean if someone gets sick they can be treated rather than left to die alone.
Please add your name to my urgent petition for Australia to act to end the Ebola crisis – we can't let this virus claim any more lives than it already has.
- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop
I am calling on the Australian Government to deploy a military unit comprised of engineers, logisticians and medics to set up a field hospital in Sierra Leone to be run as an Ebola isolation unit.
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