Ebola prevention and management instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction provides guidance to staff and students to aid in the prevention of the Ebola virus disease being transferred to the University and to Australia or other jurisdictions.

The situation with regard to Ebola worldwide, and Australia’s response to the risks remains extremely changeable, with restrictions on traveller visas to Australia currently being imposed.

Information on current travel recommendations or restrictions should be obtained from the International SOS dedicated Ebola website before making any travel plans or arrangements to Ebola infected countries.

More information on the current Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, plus information for travellers, patients and consumers, can also be accessed on the Australian Government website.

Scope

This Instruction is for the use of RMIT University and controlled entities in Australia.

This Instruction should be adapted by RMIT Vietnam and RMIT Europe in accordance with local jurisdiction travel processes and health authority instructions and advice.

It is advised that this instruction also be adopted and adapted for use by RMIT University’s offshore partners.

Instruction steps and actions

1. Symptoms of Ebola

a. Ebola virus causes a serious illness, with a sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, weakness and severe headache.

b. The next stage may include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, sore throat, cough, rash, malfunction of liver and kidneys and unexplained haemorrhage.

2. How is it spread?

a. Through direct contact (mucous membranes or broken skin) with blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids of infected animals (documented in Africa).

b. Person-to-person transmission via direct contact (through mucous membranes or broken skin) with:

  • Blood or bodily fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, faeces, vomit, and semen) of people with the virus and the bodies of people who have died of the virus.
  • Objects (e.g. needles, syringes) contaminated with blood or bodily fluids of people with the virus.

3. Travel monitoring

a. All staff travel undertaken on RMIT business must be processed through the Trobexis authority system, and arranged through RMIT’s authorised travel provider: CT Connections.

b. Student travellers are strongly advised to register separately with International SOS (ISOS)

c. International SOS monitors and maintains the RMIT travel tracker system which identifies where an RMIT traveller is at any time, to enable notification to travellers of any potential issues arising in their area of travel.

d. It is recommended that RMIT travellers download the ISOS app which includes travel information and has a panic button to alert of difficulties whilst travelling.

e. International SOS is the first contact point for emergencies whilst on RMIT related overseas travel and will coordinate further required communication or action.

f. It is recommended that all travellers should have a mobile phone which works in the areas to which they will be travelling. Students can update their phone number in My Trips.

4. Travel to Ebola impacted areas

a. Travel on RMIT business to West Africa and other countries impacted by Ebola as determined applicable by RMIT is prohibited unless specific consent has been provided by the Vice-Chancellor.

b. Travel on personal business to countries impacted by Ebola is not advised.

c. It should be noted that the Australian Government has implemented risk prevention measures including visa restrictions for return to Australia by travellers from countries affected by Ebola, which are subject to change at any time. Travellers should therefore be aware that return to Australia may be difficult, delayed or prevented, particularly if contracting the virus or being instructed to undergo quarantine prior to return.

d. Where travel on personal business to countries impacted by Ebola is undertaken, it is recommended that travel details are notified to RMIT to enable risk escalation warnings or treatment advice to be provided. Notifications should be made to:

5. Traveller returning from Ebola impacted areas

Current Australian Government Restrictions:

a. This section of the instruction must be read in conjunction with specific travel advisories or restrictions imposed by the Australian Government.

b. At present time there are restrictions or suspensions in place on visas for travellers to Australia from countries affected by the Ebola virus, designed to prevent the infection being brought to Australia, including a possible need for 21 days quarantine prior to return.

c. Before travelling back to Australia, travellers should:

  • Make enquiries with the relevant embassy or health ministry regarding any requirements conditioning entry at their destination, and prepare accordingly;
  • Reconfirm all existing travel plans and itineraries prior to department;
  • Monitor International SOS travel security alerts on Australia to remain apprised of developments; and
  • For the latest information on the ongoing global Ebola outbreak, refer to the International SOS dedicated Ebola website.

d. International SOS also has 24-hour assistance centres if you need immediate medical, security or travel advice or help. Collect calls are accepted and telephone numbers are available on their website.

General instructions for return to Australia:

e. Notwithstanding the instructions in the section above, if you arrive back in Australia and feel unwell, you should advise the flight crew who will contact the appropriate Australian authority at the airport.

f. Upon return to Australia without symptoms of Ebola, but you have been in the affected countries, you should immediately contact your doctor to discuss whether it might be necessary for you to monitor your health, particularly if you think you may have had direct contact with someone who may have had Ebola. No additional contact or travel should be undertaken until advice is received from a medical expert.

g. Following advice from your doctor. If advised, you should quarantine yourself and monitor changes in symptoms or temperature, for the incubation period – 21 days.

h. Travellers should make arrangement in consultation with their manager/supervisor, prior to returning to Australia, to accommodate any contingency plans or quarantine periods without attending the University:

  • Working from Home
  • Taking annual or sick leave
  • Deferment of study

i. At the first sign of Ebola symptoms, a returning traveller should:

  • Contact the Department of Health on 1300 651 160 who will arrange transport by ambulance for treatment;
  • Mention you have been in West Africa;
  • Advise if you have been in contact with an Ebola affected person.

j. For guidance on appropriate action, RMIT staff or students can contact International SOS for information.

6. Traveller becomes unwell in affected countries

a. The Government has advised that it is unlikely that medical evacuations will be possible..

b. It is recommended that travellers ensure their travel insurance will cover medical evacuation and treatment if necessary, specifically with regard to Ebola.

c. If a traveller becomes unwell in transit, they should advise the airline staff or local officials.

7. If Ebola symptoms are presented within the University

a. If someone presents with suspected Ebola symptoms in the University, the following process should be undertaken:

  • Isolate the potentially infected person in an empty room and do not allow any contact with other people.
  • Any person(s) who has had initial contact with the infected person should also isolate themselves in a separate room from the potentially infected person.
  • Contact Security on ext. 53333, or 0408 146 063 (Duty Officer) who will arrange for medical assistance to be provided and the internal management process to be implemented.
  • Note any contact the person may have had within the University to provide to Security and medical advisors.

b. No-one else must enter the isolation room with the potentially infected person, including Security officers.

c. Activating the Crisis Management Team

  • The Manager, Emergency Services will invoke the Crisis Management Team (CMT) by contacting the Vice-President Resources.
  • The Vice-President Resources will activate the CMT which will comprise, at a minimum, representatives from the following areas (in accordance with the CMT response process):
    • Health, Safety and Wellbeing (staff issues)
    • Security / Emergency management (operational coordination)
    • University Communications (communications)
    • Students / Student Wellbeing (student issues)

d. Crisis Management Team actions

  • The CMT will undertake or facilitate the following:
  • Notification to the Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor
  • Facilitation of appropriate health care to the infected person, ongoing monitoring and communication in accordance with Department of Health instructions.
  • Communications strategy for internal and external use, including a media statement and the provision of appropriate information to the Department of Health.
  • Communication and support strategy for associated family or friends of the infected person.
  • Notification to the University’s insurer
  • Cooperate with the Department of Health regarding quarantine and monitoring strategies as required for persons who have had direct contact with the infected person.

e. After-incident clean up

  • A specialist cleaning company must be appointed to appropriate clean any potentially infected area, in accordance with guidance from the Department of Health.
  • Security must ensure that no entry is undertaken prior to clean-up being completed.
  • Once clean-up is complete, the CMT will notify the appropriate business unit / school of the all clear.

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