Namibia: Medipark Joins Congo Fever Fight

THE Ongwediva Medipark private hospital has joined the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital in a partnership to fight the outbreak of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in the Oshikoto region through a donation of medical equipment.

The cases of Congo fever reported at Ontananga village in the Oshikoto region mark the first ever occurrence of this virus being reported in the central northern as well as the eastern parts of the northern regions of the country.

Countrywide four people are suspected to have Congo fever, with test results to confirm the diagnoses still pending.

Suspected cases have been reported in the Oshikoto, Ohangwena and Omusati regions. One patient suspected to have contracted Congo fever is in Windhoek, after recently coming from a holiday in the north.

Three suspected cases have been reported at Onandjokwe hospital, with one diagnosis confirmed, one patient having died and another person still under observation.

Medipark's managing director, Dr Tshali Iithete, in a statement read on his behalf by the hospital's public relations officer, Elizabeth Booysen, encouraged the public to exercise stipulated healthy practices including proper hygiene, regular washing of hands, and avoiding unnecessary physical conduct.

Iithete warned that people should not remove ticks when they are bitten, but should urgently seek medical attention from the nearest medical centres.

"When bitten by a tick or presented with symptoms seek immediate medical attention to combat the further spread of this highly contagious disease," he stressed, adding that the current outbreak could be a disaster if not contained.

Dr Siraji Saad Rwehumbiza, acting medical superintendent of Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital, said the donated equipment, which includes thermometers which do not have to be used in contact with patients, would go a long way as some nurses are at times scared to be in close contact with suspected Congo fever patients.

Rwehumbiza said once a patient was isolated with a suspected case of the potentially deadly fever, anyone who had been within a radius of three feet from the patient would also be put under surveillance.

"If you get a tick bite, the symptoms must show within three days. But we keep them under observation for at least two weeks to be sure," he said.

From human beings, the Congo fever virus is transmitted through body fluids, including blood, vomit and urine.

CCHF is a deadly disease in the same group of haemorrhagic fevers as Ebola. The two diseases have similar symptoms, including excessive headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, bleeding and vomiting.

The donated equipment, which includes thermometers and disposable gowns, is valued at N$25 000. - tuyeimo@namibian.com.na

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