Namibia Closely Monitors Ebola

THE Ministry of Health and Social Services has allayed fears that Namibia could face an outbreak of the Ebola disease.

Dr Jack Vries, chairman of the National Health Emergency Management Committee, yesterday told The Namibian that there was no reason for panic over chances of the disease coming to Namibia, and that the situation is being monitored “as we speak”.

“At the moment the virus is still far away, but when it is nearby, we’ll be ready,” he said, adding that any victim will be identified very quickly even if they come to Namibia by plane.

“People will be able to see that someone is very sick. Victims would start vomiting and have diarrhoea on the plane already. So when they land in Namibia, we’ll seclude them immediately and isolate the spread of the virus,” said Vries.

He referred to minister of health Richard Kamwi’s address to parliament earlier this month that Namibia has made contingency plans in the event of an Ebola outbreak, and that the public should not be alarmed because it was unlikely that the Ebola virus would reach Namibia.

The disease has killed nearly 700 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since it was first diagnosed in February. Now there are fears of a worldwide outbreak after an American died of the virus last week in Nigeria after taking a flight from Liberia, where he allegedly contracted the virus.

International reports yesterday indicated that doctors in the UK are preparing for a possible outbreak of Ebola after they learned of the American’s death, and the possibility of the virus spreading through international air travel.

Kamwi said the risk of infection for travellers is very low since person to person transmission results from direct contact with body fluids or secretions of an infected patient.

Vries said the outbreak apparently started after people had eaten monkeys and bats.

“A while ago we had the H1N1 (swine flue), which we took care of very quickly. Once people were diagnosed, we treated them and prevented the spread of the disease. We’ll do the same with Ebola when it gets here but please, there is no reason to put fear in the people now,” said Vries. “Just leave it (Ebola) there.”

The symptoms of the disease range from a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, skin rash, impaired kidney and liver functioning, and in the worst case scenario, internal and external bleeding. There is no known cure for the disease.

Source : The Namibian