Ebola: US, UK demand AUSMAT teams

Senior foreign affairs official Blair Exell revealed the requests from Australia’s two closest allies at a Senate estimates committee hearing today, adding they were still being dealt with.

The departmental first assistant secretary said Britain had sought Australian personnel for its Ebola effort in Sierra Leone in a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop at the end of September.

The US made an initial request for a liaison officer about the same time, but has since expanded its request to include an unspecified number of support personnel and a bigger contribution of funds via the UN, he said.

The revelation comes as the government is under pressure to allay doubts about its preparedness to mount a rapid medical response to an outbreak of Ebola in the Asia-Pacific region.

So far the government has fended off pressure from aid groups to