No case of Ebola in Tanzania, says health minister

Saturday September 14 2019

 

By The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTZ news@thecitizen.co.tz

Dar es Salaam. The government of Tanzania said on Saturday September 14 that there has been no confirmed case of Ebola in the country.

This comes a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was investigating “as a matter of urgency” a ‘rumor’ of death from an unknown illness in Tanzania.

WHO said on Friday September 13 that it had deployed a technical team to the country to cooperate with the health ministry.

Speaking at a press conference in Dar es Salaam, the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ms Ummy Mwalimu said there were romours about two cases of people who were believed to have contracted Ebola.

“We (as the ministry) took samples of those cases and I can confirm that they didn’t have Ebola,’’ said Ms Mwalimu, emphasizing that the only authority that can announce an outbreak of a disease such as Ebola is the country’s minister responsible for health.

The patient who died was buried by the authorities in Temeke, Dar es Salaam, unofficial reports indicate.

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But this is not the first time that health authorities in Tanzania have buried patients with Ebola-like symptoms.

In 2016, The Citizen witnessed health workers at Muhimbili National Hospital, wearing personal protective gear aboard a special vehicle carrying two caskets bearing the bodies of the deceased, headed for burial in Kinondoni.

Authorities said the patients had been diagnosed with Viral Hemorrhagic Fever syndrome which includes diseases like Severe Dengue Fever, Ebola and Zika fever.

In Tanzania and across East Africa, there is heightened vigilance because of an outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo and a few reported cases in Western Uganda at the border with DRC.

A recent death that sparked controversy on social media is that of a Tanzanian medical doctor who was a student at Makerere University in Uganda.

Reports which went viral on social media (especially on WhatsApp) on Friday September said that the deceased had traveled from Uganda to her country, Tanzania, where she was carrying out her field study for post-graduate studies.

She travelled to Mwanza (in the North West of the country), then she went to Dar es Salaam (in the East of the country) and subsequently travelled to the South-East of the country (Mtwara or Songea).

Details showed that she developed headache, fever, rash, bloody diarrhoea on 28 August and sought medical attention at a private clinic where she was first diagnosed with malaria.

She travelled back to Dar es Salaam, where she was hospitalized on 7 September at one of the regional referral hospitals.

Following a suspicion of viral hemorrhagic fever, she was transferred to an isolation unit in another referral hospital -Temeke Ebola Treatment Unit where she died. Her burial was supervised, reports further indicate.

Reuters quoted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday saying it was unlikely the death was caused by Ebola.

The woman who died in Dar es Salaam on Sept. 8 presented symptoms common to several diseases, including dengue or malaria, both endemic in East Africa, said Justin Williams, the director for communication and policy at the Nairobi office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters.