Ebola scare reports damaged Gold Coast's reputation: tourism boss

The head of Gold Coast Tourism says sensational media reporting of Thursday's Ebola scare damaged the region's brand as a holiday destination.

Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays and changed flights amid reports a 27-year-old man had been admitted to the Gold Coast University Hospital with "Ebola-like" symptoms.

Michael Walsh, 27, a fly-in, fly-out miner from Western Australia was later cleared of having the deadly virus after two blood tests returned negative results.

But Gold Coast Tourism chief executive Martin Winter said the seven-hour gap between Mr Walsh's admission to hospital and his clearance of the virus resulted in hysteria over a possible outbreak of Ebola.

"This is a place we're trying to encourage people to come to," Mr Winter told the ABC.

"We have 12 million people who come here every year and 99.99 per cent of those people go away having had a wonderful experience.

"It's just concerning that the brand we're trying to promote ... what a wonderful place it is on the Gold Coast can be unwound very quickly by a sub-editor or a person who thinks they've got a clever angle to sensationalise the story on the television."

Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said Thursday's situation was not normal practice, with health authorities normally waiting for test results before making a statement.

Mr Dutton said early reports of the case came from local media organisations, which had been monitoring emergency services communications.

This made it difficult to establish the truth before stories were published or aired, Mr Dutton said.

"As I'm advised there was scanning of the ambulance network and the media reported that before the fellow had got to hospital," Mr Dutton told the ABC.

"It's perfectly legitimate and understandable that the media would report on that but it allowed the issue to get ahead of where the authorities were able to give further detail."

Despite the scare, health authorities believe the incident had been a good test run for their infectious disease procedures and protocols.

"The patient was managed in a textbook fashion and I think it's a great credit to our staff as well as the ambulance officers in the way that they dealt with this patient," Gold Coast University Hospital's director of infectious diseases John Gerrard told reporters on Thursday.


This article Ebola scare reports damaged Gold Coast's reputation: tourism boss was originally published in Brisbane Times.