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Kenya Ministry of Health allays fears of Ebola
virus outbreak after latest tests turn 'negative'

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s health ministry has allayed fears of an Ebola outbreak in the country after a suspected case which was reported in Kericho County in northwest region turned negative.

Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary for Health, said the case reported in Kericho involving a 36-year-old woman does not meet the case definition of Ebola.

Kenya Ministry of Health allays fears of Ebola virus outbreak after latest tests turn 'negative' | Coastweek   "The rapid surveillance and response team which has been set up to respond has examined the patient who is in stable condition and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition of Ebola," Kariuki said.

She later said in a statement issued on Monday evening that further blood tests by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) laboratories in Nairobi confirmed to be negative for Ebola virus disease and other viral hemorrhagic fevers.

"The ministry of health wishes to reiterate to the general public and health facilitates that we are prepared in terms of Ebola prevention and response measures and therefore there is no need for panic," Kariuki said.

The 36-year-old woman put in isolation at the Kericho County Referral Hospital over suspected Ebola symptoms was experiencing headache, fever and vomiting.

Speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) during an inspection of the screening exercise earlier on Monday, Kariuki noted that an alert has been issued to all health workers and public to enhance surveillance measures and report any suspected cases.

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki [right] speaks during her tour to assess the Ebola prevention and response measure at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi. Kenya has intensified surveillance to prevent spread of Ebola as a suspected case is reported in Kericho County that is located about 260 km northwest of the capital Nairobi. XINHUA PHOTO - FRED MUTUNE
"I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola and indeed the ministry has undertaken and continues to implement the preparedness measures," she said.

Kenya has been on high alert since last week when a five-year-old boy and his grandmother from neighboring Uganda succumbed to Ebola after a brief visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where there is an outbreak.

The ministry of health said that surveillance had been intensified at ports of entry to prevent spread of Ebola into the country.

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that more than 2,000 people have been infected with Ebola and about 1,400 have succumbed to the highly contagious hemorrhagic fever since it broke out in DRC in August 2018.


Tanzanian health authorities respond to fears of Ebola outbreak

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian health authorities on Thursday allayed fears of an Ebola outbreak, saying response strategies are in place.

"There should not be any panic because no cases have been reported in the rest of the EAC (East Africa of Community) bloc except Uganda," said Mohamed Kambi, chief medical officer in the Tanzanian Ministry of Health.

He told a news conference in the northern tourist city of Arusha that cross-border health professionals all over the EAC region are on the ground to monitor the situation.

The EAC groups Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Kambi said Tanzania will fully cooperate with her neighbors and the international community to ensure that the deadly hemorrhagic fever is contained in the affected countries and does not spill over to the country.

He said experts have been deployed to key areas along Tanzania’s borders with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to enhance checks on incoming people.

On June 15, Tanzanian Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu warned that the country was at high risk of an Ebola outbreak after the virus killed two people in neighboring Uganda.

Uganda’s health ministry said last week that the second person infected with the Ebola virus has died after a family exposed to the disease quietly crossed the border from the DRC.

"Tanzania is at high risk of the Ebola virus outbreak and we are doing all we can to respond to the outbreak," said Mwalimu in an interview with Xinhua from Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week the Ebola outbreak in the DRC does not qualify as an international threat, despite the spread of the virus to neighboring Uganda.

Ebola spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.

The current outbreak in the DRC has killed more than 1,200 people.

Between 2014 and 2016, an Ebola epidemic that struck mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone left more than 11,300 people dead.

South Sudan beefs up border surveillance to impede Ebola threat

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan has tightened up its border scrutiny campaign against Ebola after an outbreak of the viral hemorrhagic fever disease was reported recently in neighboring Uganda.

Laze Geoffrey Wajaras, a public health officer in Nimule, said a border rapid response team comprising ten healthcare workers have set up a screening room at the border entrance as commuters enter the east Africa’s youngest immigration offices through Uganda’s border town of Elegu.

Wajaras told Xinhua on Thursday that the good cooperation between security officials at the border made it relatively easy for them to quickly screen the passengers to impede the outbreak.

"If a passenger is screened with a normal body temperature of 35.5 Celsius you are allowed to go, but if the temperature is less than 35.5 it is retaken.

"Like if it is 33.5 Celsius we retake it," said Wajaras.

If a passenger temperature is greater than 37.8 Celsius, the person will be referred from a primary screening point to the secondary screening point for rest and retake, he said.

Wajaras said the outbreak of Ebola in Uganda has created a public health scare and put the war-torn country at high risk of the hemorrhagic fever, his health team is ensuring that all passengers must be screened in an effort to enhance the border preparedness.

"Before entering the Nimule primary screening sites, every traveler has to wash hands and after washing then they all queue in a line with a space in between them so that there is no contact," Wajaras told Xinhua.

He observed that it does not mean that if a traveler’s temperature is abnormal, then the person is an Ebola suspect, but it could be malaria or typhoid.

He said such cases are referred to isolation site established at the Nimule teaching hospital for a thorough examination.

Emilo Igga Alimas, Pageri County commissioner, who chaired health cluster and security meeting in the areas, told Xinhua that they have established three screening sites, one at the main border point, one at the river port, and one at the airstrip site as a measure to enhancing the country’s overall preparedness for epidemic crisis.

"We have three screening sites that are working from morning starting from 6: 00 am to 9: 00 pm local time, every day and in a week we could screen over 35,000 through these entry points," Alimas said.

South Sudan recently launched its country’s updated second national plan on how to stop the virus from gaining a foothold in the country, during which the country appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance of 12 million U.S. dollars to boost its campaign against Ebola.

The highly contagious virus’ symptoms are manifested mainly by fever, diarrhea, generalized pain and in many cases internal and external bleeding.

According to World Health Organization, South Sudan has set up a 72-hour outbreak response and containment plan and vaccine readiness at the 25 screening sites at border enter points across the country.

Riek Gai Kok, South Sudan’s health minister, said the confirmation of Ebola in Uganda’s western district of Kasese has created a public health concern and the young country is tightening its health care system in a bid to keep bugs at bay away from the country.

"We have deployed well-trained rapid response team at all border entry points to do the screening of all passengers, including the nationals that are returning from refugee settlements in Uganda and DRC, respectively, to prevent the possible spreading of the virus after its outbreak," Kok told Xinhua on Thursday.


World Health Organization help East Africans respond to 'Ebola'



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