Ebola virus ruled out, but trauma unit closed for big scrub

2014-08-05 00:00

ALARM bells tolled at two Durban hospitals over what was thought to be an Ebola scare — but the deadly virus has since been ruled out.

While the panic has calmed, Entabeni Hospital closed its trauma unit for extensive cleaning and disinfecting after a man was briefly treated in the premier hospital’s accident and emergency department.

The man, understood to have fallen ill while aboard a ship moored in Durban’s harbour, is now being closely monitored in a quarantined intensive care unit at the King Edward VIII Hospital.

Investigations revealed that the sailor had visited countries on the East African coast, and not the West, where the virus is raging out of control.

It is understood that the 30-year-old was admitted to Entabeni on Sunday night and then transferred to King Edward VIII when he showed symptoms of acute respiratory illness. Life Entabeni Hospital spokesperson Leanne Nyiri said that concerns had been dispelled.

“A patient came from a ship that had travelled down the East coast of Africa. Our initial concern was whether the patient had visited a West African country where there is currently an outbreak of ­Ebola,” she said.

“Dr Juno Thomas from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases has confirmed that this is not a suspected case of Ebola,” Nyiri added.

The Ebola virus, an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and ­severe internal bleeding, is spread through contact with infected body fluids.

It has claimed over 800 lives in an outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Ports of entry across South Africa have been placed on high alert.

A source within hospital structures, who could not be named, confirmed that the trauma unit had been closed.

“They are cleaning the trauma unit now and patients are being seen to elsewhere,” the source said.

The Witness visited the hospital to find that the unit was indeed closed, and that signs had been erected detailing that “maintenance was in progress”.

Paramedics transporting patients away from the hospital were wearing masks.

The Department of Health has reportedly placed response teams on high alert, especially at the country’s port cities.

Only the central hospitals contain the state-of-the-art infection control equipment and specialists required, including isolation wards and screening facilities.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za


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