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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Tanzania on full alert over Ebola outbreak
in Democratic Republic of the Congo

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania on Thursday issued an alert following an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Ummy Mwalimu, the east African country’s minister for health, said the government has directed regional medical officers across the country to strengthen surveillance in an effort to prevent the Ebola outbreak in the country.

“The Tanzanian government has received an official report on the outbreak of the deadly Ebola in the in DRC,” Mwalimu told a news conference in the capital Dodoma.

She said Tanzania has, until now, not documented any case of Ebola, but insisted that the country was not immune from the viral disease due to the possibility of cross-border transmission from the affected countries.

“We must strengthen our border surveillance. The fact that no case has ever been reported in our country doesn’t mean we are safe,” said the minister.

With this reappearance of the Ebola outbreak, the DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The last outbreak recorded by the country took place in May 2017 in the northern province of Bas-Uele, which killed four people.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding.

Mortality rates of Ebola fever, according to the World Health Organization, are extremely high, with the human case-fatality rate ranging from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on viral sub-type.

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UPDATES:

Democratic Republic of the Congo: 11 cases of Ebola and one death confirmed

KINSHASA Democratic Republic of the Congo (Xinhua) -- The number of Ebola hemorrhagic fever cases has risen to 11 and one death has been recorded in Bikoro, Equateur Province in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said Congolese Minister of Health on Thursday evening.

According to Orly Ilunga, currently seven people, of which two cases previously confirmed in the laboratory, are hospitalized at the General Hospital in Bikoro. Another health center in the Iboko Health Zone reported 4 new cases and one Ebola death on Wednesday night.

“One of the peculiarities of the current epidemic is the fact that three health professionals have been infected. Health professionals being the first actors in the government’s response to Ebola, this situation is of concern to us,” said Ilunga at the press conference in Kinshasa.

Nevertheless, he stressed that it is important to know that there are several types of hemorrhagic fever besides the Ebola virus disease in the country.

“As the tests of the first samples have revealed, not all suspected cases are Ebola, and only the analysis of the samples taken will make it possible to accurately follow the evolution of the current epidemic,” he added.

Declared since Tuesday, the DRC is now at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The last outbreak recorded by the country took place in May 2017 in the Likati Health Zone, in northern Bas-Uele province. The Likati epidemic killed four people.

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Uganda on alert over DR Congo Ebola outbreak

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda is on alert following an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has left at least 17 people dead.

Sarah Opendi, minister of state for health, told Xinhua by telephone on Wednesday that health workers in the western border districts have been put on high alert to monitor and screen all people coming from DRC after the outbreak was reported in the northwest Equateur Province.

“It’s confirmed we have an outbreak of Ebola in DRC. This is quite unfortunate. As ministry of health we have already contacted the border district health teams. They have their task forces to be on alert to ensure there is adequate surveillance,” said Opendi.

“We are going to establish screening centers in the borders to ensure that we screen all the people who are coming from DRC,” she said.

The minister said the ministry of health is also going to open an Ebola screening facility at Entebbe International Airport, about 40 km south of the capital Kampala.

“Even at the airport we are going to ensure there is a screening facility at the airport so that all people coming into the country especially DRC and neighboring countries are screened,” said Opendi.

She urged the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious cases to health workers for immediate attention.

Health authorities in Kinshasa on Tuesday confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in the Bikoro Health Zone, northwest DRC’s Equateur Province, with two cases being confirmed by the laboratory of the National Institute of Biomedical Research.

According to DRC authorities, it was on May 3, that the provincial health division of Equateur reported at the central level of the Ministry of Health 21 cases of fever with signs and 17 deaths in the Ikoko Impenge health area located in the province.

With this reappearance of the Ebola outbreak, the DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The last outbreak recorded by the country took place in May 2017 in the northern province of Bas-Uele which killed four people.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding.

Mortality rates of Ebola fever, according to the World Health Organization, are extremely high, with the human case-fatality rate ranging from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on viral sub-type.

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Zambia on increased alert after Ebola outbreak in DRC

LUSAKA  Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia on Thursday announced heightened surveillance measures following fresh outbreak of Ebola in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said during a press briefing the government had increased the level of alertness, that surveillance in all border entry areas have been increased.

He urged citizens not to panic, saying the government will continue to monitor the situation in DRC and inform the nation of any possible danger.

It is DRC’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976. As of Thursday, 11 Ebola cases and one death have been confirmed.

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Nigeria ups measures against possible Ebola outbreak

By Bosun Awoniyi LAGOS Nigeria (Xinhua) -- Nigeria has never stopped the screening of inbound passengers at the airports since an Ebola outbreak in 2014 after an American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, brought it into the country, an official said Thursday.

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday directed the health ministry to step up surveillance activities against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country.

Minister of Health Isaac Adewole, who said this to reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital, added that the council’s directive followed the reported reemergence of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The health ministry in DRC said cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in its northwest region that is facing an Ebola epidemic as far back as December and the first deaths were reported in January.

The health ministry said on Tuesday that at least 17 people had died in an area of northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo where health officials have now confirmed an outbreak of Ebola.

Spokesperson for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Henrietta Yakubu told Xinhua that the aviation body still had all the equipment and adequate personnel at the airport to prevent the virus from coming into the country.

“We have always had thermal scanners in our airports that monitor temperature of passengers and capture their pictures. We still have hand sanitizers in our rest rooms too,” she added.

“When passengers walk pass the scanners, it registers their temperature. If yours is high, you are pulled aside for observation,” the spokesperson said.

The scanners are fixed apparatus at the arrival halls that take the picture and temperature of any given passenger at a particular time as the traveler passes through them, the FAAN spokesperson added.

Yakubu added that this was being supported by Port Health officers who ensure that any suspicious person is brought in for observation.

She said the authority would not relent on its effort at ensuring that inbound passengers were properly screened at the airports.

Earlier, Adewole, Nigeria’s health minister, told reporters that the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) will also consider sending some team to DRC as part of building capacity for managing the outbreak.

Adewole reassured Nigerians that the federal government was concerned about the outbreak and would continue to do everything possible to keep the country safe from the outbreak.

In 2014, Nigeria was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO), having recorded no new cases of the highly contagious disease after six weeks.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola is introduced into human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.

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Ghana on alert over Ebola outbreak in DRC

ACCRA Ghana (Xinhua) -- Ghana is on high alert following the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a senior official said on Thursday.

Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said Ghana is putting all its surveillance in place and advised the public to intensify preventive measures against the virus.

“We are also on a high alert; the ports, border officers as well as all the districts have been alerted to look out for the signs and symptoms of the virus,” he told local media, while confirming receipt of alert from the World Health Organization (WHO).

He said his unit will continue to educate the public about the early signs of the disease.

A new outbreak of the EVD was declared on Tuesday by the DRC government, after two samples had been tested positive for EVD in Bikoro, Equateur Province.

DRC authorities said that the provincial health division of Equateur reported at the central level of the Ministry of Health on May 3, 21 cases of fever with signs and 17 deaths in the Ikoko Impenge health area located in the province.

With this reappearance of the Ebola outbreak, the DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976.

The last outbreak recorded by the country took place in May 2017 in the northern province of Bas-Uele which killed four people.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola is passed onto human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.

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Africa Union disease control center to help DRC fight new Ebola outbreak

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has activitated an emergency operation to support efforts by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in fighting against the new Ebola outbreak in the country.

A new outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was declared on Tuesday by the DRC government, after two samples tested positive for EVD in Bikoro, Equateur Province.

In response to the new outbreak of Ebola, the Africa CDC said Thursday that it has activated its emergency operation center (EOC) to support national outbreak response efforts, according to an African Union (AU) statement.

The Africa CDC has mobilized its epidemic response team (ERT) for imminent deployment. The team includes experts with previous experience in responding to the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa in 2014 and in the DRC in 2017.

A total of 250,000 U.S. dollars has been set aside for outbreak response activities, and more resources are being mobilized, the statement said.

The AU Commission has been informed of the outbreak and is ready to offer comprehensive support of all AU organs to the response.

             

 

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