Ebola Scare Was Shellfish Allergy

The Ebola scare at Hosea Kutako International Airport turned out to be just a passenger who was allergic to shellfish, which the passenger ate while on holiday in Zanzibar before departing for his connecting flight in Johannesburg for Windhoek, last Friday morning.

However, the quarantining of the airplane at the airport scared the 102 passengers on board the flight, as initially the man showed signs similar to those of the killer disease Ebola that is wreaking havoc in West Africa, with more than 700 deaths reported.

The cabin crew of Air Namibia tended to the male passenger – a Namibian – after he started to scratch himself and complained about feeling unwell.

The crew members reacted quickly when the man’s scratching worsened and he took off the scarf he was wearing. Blood was streaming down his neck and this prompted the crew to inform the captain, who arranged via telephone for the flight to be quarantined on arrival at Hosea Kutako.

On touchdown at 07:30, the plane was put into quarantine and a full medical team in protective clothing and masks arrived shortly afterwards where a thorough check-up was done on the passenger.

The medical team realised that it was a food-related allergy that caused the severe symptoms after the man told them about the shellfish he ate and that he had been visiting in East Africa where no tropical diseases like Ebola are currently present.

It turned out that the passenger was allergic to shellfish.

Confirming the incident, Wimpie van Vuuren, senior manager of marketing and communication of Air Namibia, told New Era yesterday that every precaution as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in such cases had to be followed for the sake of the passenger, his co-passengers, and in the name of national health safety.

“The Air Namibia cabin crew did a splendid job and applied the rules to the letter to ensure the correct procedures were followed for the safety of all on board. The medical team completed their analysis by 11:00, and everyone on board could leave the plane with a huge sigh of relief,” he said.

The passenger started complaining of symptoms related to the Ebola virus during the flight.

Ebola is a deadly virus that kills more than 80 percent of those infected. It is spread by body fluids and, according to health experts, cannot be passed on by merely sitting next to someone infected with the virus on a plane.

“Air Namibia regrets the inconvenience to passengers but now knows that passengers appreciate the swift reaction of the cabin crew and the potential danger of such a situation,” Van Vuuren said.

The man, whose name was released by Air Namibia, has since been treated for the allergy and is reported to be in fine health.

Source : New Era