Ministry of Health dismisses Ebola scare

Ministry of Health and Population has dismissed reports of a suspected Ebola case in the northern border town of Karonga.

In a statement issued on Monday, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Dan Namarika said Malawi will remain vigilant in ensuring disease surveillance and response.

Reads the statement in part: “This is to inform the public that there is a patient admitted to Karonga Treatment Camp with fever and signs of infection. There is no history suggesting contact or travel to any region with Ebola [no epidemiological risk]. The patient is being managed with broad spectrum antibiotics, fluids and general supportive care.”

Namarika: There is a patient with fever

He said the health workers at the camp are ensuring infection prevention processes while other investigations are underway.

The ministry’s reaction followed information on social media purporting that there was a suspected Ebola case at Kaporo in Karonga.

A report produced by a team that followed up on the suspected case of the 37-year-old patient from James Village, Traditional Authority Kilipula in Karonga indicated that he was bleeding from nose, mouth and eyes.

Reports of the suspected case comes barely a day after World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Nonhlanhla Rosemary Dlamini said there was no apparatus at Songwe Border in Karonga that can be used to expedite Ebola cases detection in the wake of fears that neighbouring Tanzania was at high risk of the disease due to the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Dlamini said this at Songwe Border on Sunday during a visit to appreciate the state of preparedness on Ebola outbreak in prone areas in the Northern Region. She was accompanied by Minister of Health and Population Jappie Mhango.

She indicated that the border preparatory set up left a lot to be desired as so many apparatus were yet to be put in place despite huge Ebola fears.

Dlamini also observed that the border lacks basic apparatus such as separate tents for case management, screening equipments, cleaning liquid and protective gears.

She said: “There’s a lot of work to be done to scale up preparedness to handle Ebola cases at the border. Actually, nothing tangible is at the border site. What we have seen is that they are only taking body temperature. No apparatus is in place like what we get in Chitipa border that can help to handle Ebola case.”

During the Songwe Border inspection, Mhango directed Karonga District Health Office(DHO) to improve the state of preparedness for Ebola at the border before the end of this week.

He said: “I am not impressed with the state of Ebola preparedness at the border. This is a big threat to the nation.”

In an interview yesterday, Karonga district commissioner Paul Kalilombe said that the border only has two thermometers and two officers working on Ebola screening.

He said the other threat is the use of uncharted routes, mostly across Songwe River by boats.

“We will deploy more staff to work at the border. We will also intensify border patrols. Apart from working with the police, we plan to sensitise chiefs to assist us in curtailing movements using unchartered routes,” Kalilombe said.

According to the Songwe Joint Border Committee, at least 300 people exit or enter Malawi through Songwe Border post daily.

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