Health Parliamentary Secretary Chris Fearne has issued instructions for full-head hoods to treat suspected Ebola cases to be brought to Malta by courier.

The instructions were given this morning, shortly after the nurses' union had ordered its members to stay away from the Infectious Control Unit set up to treat suspected cases of patients with Ebola.

The first batch were delivered to Mater Dei this morning and a larger batch is expected in the next few days, a spokesman for the Health Ministry said.

The deadly disease has so far killed thousands of people. It has spread through various African countries and has now reached European countries too, such a Spain.

"I have given instructions for the procurement of protective hoods to be given urgent priority - even by DHL," Mr Fearne told Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses president, Paul Pace.

The union last night ordered its members to stay away from the Infectious Disease Unit and from suspected Ebola patients as the unit lacked basic equipment to protect medical professionals.

The union said there were no proper full-head hoods used in other hospitals abroad to treat suspected cases. Instead, the nurses have to wear one-size-fits-all masks.

Nurses who failed the fit testing of the masks, as their faces were too small, were told to close the gaps with tape, the union said in a letter to members seen by Times of Malta.

The letter was also sent to Mr Fearne.

"Mater Dei Hospital is not prepared to take in Ebola patients," union president Paul Pace told members as he issued directives to nurses to stay away from the unit. "The union will not allow any nurse to die in his or her line of duty," he added.

"MUMN was assured that Mater Dei Hospital is prepared for the care of Ebola patients. That is far from the truth. Unless full-head hoods are made available, no nurse is to enter any room where suspected Ebola cases are placed. Moreover, no nurse is to place tape on their face," Mr Pace said.

He said the union also expected disciplinary action to be taken against the person or people responsible for the procurement of such hoods that never materialised.

He added that the directive would only be lifted once the hoods were purchased and delivered.

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