4 September 2018

Zambia Dismisses Reports of Ebola Outbreak

Photo: Kellie Ryan/IRC
Dr. Sylvie Musema Ngimba washes her hands with chlorine and water at Case Du Salut Medical Center where she is head medical doctor for infection prevention and control at the International Rescue Committee. She has worked to contain five Ebola outbreaks.

Health authorities in Zambia on Tuesday dismissed reports that the country has recorded its first Ebola case.

Reports in some local media reported that the country recorded its first Ebola case on Monday following the admission of a 41-year-old patient at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital in Lusaka, the country's capital.

But the Zambian minister said the patient, who was quarantined at the hospital has no Ebola but septicemia, a bacteria in the blood that often occurs with severe infections.

He said laboratory tests conducted on the patient have ruled out any Ebola virus, adding that there was no need for people to panic.

The Zambian minister told reporters during a press briefing that admission of the patient to the hospital was an indication of the country's heightened surveillance system following the outbreak of the deadly disease in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He said the government has increased surveillance measures in border areas with the DRC.

The minister said seven-member rapid surveillance teams have been set up in all districts bordering DRC.

"May I take this opportunity to inform the public that contrary to the news circulating in the social media there is no case of Ebola in Zambia," he said.

"Everything is under control and there is no need to panic as government has taken all the necessary measures to ensure heightened prevention, preparedness and response activities against Ebola," he added.

NAN reports that authorities in DRC said a new outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed 33 people in the east of the country.

Thirteen Ebola cases have been confirmed since the fresh outbreak was declared on August 1 in North Kivu province.

Containing an Ebola outbreak in a "war zone" in the Democratic Republic of Congo is among the most difficult challenges the World Health Organisation has faced, a top WHO official said.

In North Kivu, health workers will have to navigate their response among more than 100 armed groups, 20 of whom are "highly active," WHO's emergency response chief Peter Salama told reporters.

The outbreak in North Kivu in eastern DRC was declared a week after WHO and the Kinshasa government hailed the end of an earlier Ebola flare up in northwestern Equateur province, which killed 33 people.

As with the earlier outbreak," vaccinations will be an integral part of the response," the health ministry said Saturday.

The latest outbreak of the haemorrhagic virus is the 10th in the DRC since 1976, when it was discovered in the north of the country, then called Zaire, and named after a river nearby.

(Xinhua/NAN)

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