South Africans have been on edge since the Ebola outbreak that has killed well over a thousand people in West Africa was declared a global emergency. But the Department of Health says there is no need to panic as there are no reported cases of the virus in the country.
The most recent scare included claims that a pregnant patient from Guinea ,West Africa, who was admitted at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg was a potential carrier of the deadly virus. The woman had arrived in the country 13 days ago and was apparently kept in isolation due to a suspected Ebola infection. Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi told a media contingent at the Edenvale Hospital that the scare at Rahima Moosa was a false alarm. "We are combat ready, we have selected 11 hospitals to deal with all Ebola cases in South Africa," he assured citizens. He urged people to only take note of the national department's updates and "not politicians", presumably making reference to the DA's Jack Bloom.
Widespread panic has been mounting after World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Margaret Chan earlier appealed for greater help for those worst hit by the "largest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the nearly four-decade history of this disease”. Chan further warned of “the potential for further international spread".
South Africa’s latest scare is unsurprisingly not the first of its kind. Last week several people apparently received BBM messages claiming that one person had died of Ebola in Durban. The messages read: URGENT Please be aware that the Ebola virus has reached Durban. 1 patient confirmed. PLEASE BE ALERT…Kindly take precautions…Re: A patient has passed away at the Mahatma Ghandi hospital and the area is quarantined… PLEASE REBROADCAST.
The Department of Health found these claims as “extremely regrettable” and said the messages were nothing more than a malicious hoax.
Before then there were other fears that a ship had been quarantined in Richards Bay because of a suspected case of the Ebola virus on board, something that also turned out to be a baseless rumour.
Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete denied these claims and explained that it is standard procedure for container ships coming from specific regions to be isolated and inspected.
According to WHO, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone remain the only countries on the African continent with confirmed cases of Ebola.
Addition sources: http://www.who.int/en/
By Nthabiseng More