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12 November 2015
The Australian Government will begin downscaling domestic border screening measures for Ebola at airports and seaports to reflect the decreased risk to Australia.
This means, from early December 2015, incoming travellers to Australia will no longer be required to complete the Ebola-related Travel History Card.
Over 22 million travellers have arrived in Australia through international airports since Australia commenced border screening measures for Ebola in August 2014.
This includes over 17 million travellers completing the Ebola-related Travel History Card, which was introduced on 14 November 2014.
During the 15 months of border screening measures, over 2000 travellers arriving in Australia identified as having been in an Ebola affected country and 155 passengers who declared exposure to a person with Ebola, or recorded an increased temperature, were referred to Human Quarantine Officers for further assessment.
These measures have helped keep Australia alert to the threat of Ebola over the past 15 months and thankfully no cases were recorded.
Worldwide Ebola cases have also dropped from 650 new cases per week at the time Australia introduced enhanced border screening measures to an average of less-than five cases per week today.
This decline has seen the World Health Organization declare Sierra Leone Ebola free on the weekend, as well as Liberia in September 2015. Cases in the only remaining of the three Ebola-affected countries, Guinea, also continue to decline to low levels.
As such, passengers arriving in Australia will see the following changes in border screening measures undertaken by the Departments of Health, Agriculture and Water Resources and Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP):
- Cessation of the requirement to complete an Ebola related Travel History Card at airports and seaports; and
- Cessation of temperature screening.
- Standard screening protocols to identify and assess passengers who have been in an Ebola affected country in the past 21 days;
- SmartGate clearance will continue to ask questions about travel to an Ebola-affected country; and
- Exit screening of passengers leaving airports in the three West African countries affected by the recent outbreak will also continue to ensure that those of high risk – or displaying symptoms – of Ebola are not able to board an aircraft.
It should also be noted that any passenger on an aircraft or at the border who is unwell on arrival would be cared for under existing border arrangements, which includes a requirement under the Quarantine Act 1908 for commanders of vessels coming into Australia to report any ill passengers on board prior to arrival. Any passengers reported as ill are initially assessed by a biosecurity officer and may be referred to a Human Quarantine Officer.
The response to the Ebola outbreak has involved the cooperation and commitment of a large number of Australian Government agencies including state and territory health authorities and we would like to thank all involved for their efforts.
The Australian Government would also like to thank travellers for their patience and participation in helping to keep Australia Ebola free.
Further details on the screening measures coming into effect in the coming weeks will be made available on the Department of Health website.
Minister Ley: Troy Bilsborough 0427 063 150 or Kay McNiece 0412 132 585