Anger over Ebola hoax messages

2014-11-01 00:00

PRANKSTERS abusing fears surrounding the Ebola virus to send social network users in Durban and Pietermaritzburg into panic mode have earned the wrath of medical officials.

In Pietermaritzburg, instant messaging applications were used to broadcast the following message: “URGENT MESSAGE: Ebola case at Daymed hospital. A Nigerian man has been confirmed to have the Ebola virus at Daymed hospital in Raisethorpe. Please people be cautious! pls rebroadcast.”

Daymed matron Moira Nel said that there had been no such case. “What a hoax! It is totally false. We have contingency plans in place to deal with cases of Ebola, with protocols to follow. If there is a case, it has be reported to the Department of Health first,” Nel said.

Another message circulating among BBM and WhatsApp users in Durban read: “WARNING: Scare of Deadly Ebola Virus in Durban!!! Durban has received its first threat of the deadly Ebola virus yesterday. According to media reports, a suspected Ebola case has been reported at Addington Hospital and they are on red alert. Staff at Addington closed off entrances and wards to the hospital in readiness to treat the suspected Ebola …”

Professor Lucille Blumberg, spokesperson of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, said there had been false rumours of Ebola cases being spread, but no cases had been confirmed.

“There have been no cases of Ebola in Durban or in KwaZulu-Natal. There has been a lot of misinformation being reported. A man who had flu-like symptoms had been tested and cleared because he was not a risk,” she said.

A senior member of Addington’s management, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that the Ebola hoax was little more than fear-mongering.

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