Panic over Potch Ebola ‘quarantine’
The Department of Health has appealed to the public and the media not to create panic after a report said a case of Ebola was detected in Potchefstroom in North West.
On Wednesday night, Free State radio station OFM reported that the Potchefstroom Hospital was placed under quarantine while they tested a man for Ebola after he was admitted with a high fever.
But Health Department spokesman, Joe Maila, said on Thursday morning the suggestion that the man had Ebola was incorrect.
“If a person walks into a hospital and you are monitoring the patient, that does not mean they have Ebola. This person has not even been out of the country,” he said. Maila said doctors were still running tests and the 72-year-old man was yet to be diagnosed.
“We urge the people of South Africa (to) not cause a national panic… and the media should not create that hype and that panic,” he said.
Maila said Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, his department and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) would immediately confirm if someone was diagnosed with Ebola in South Africa.
“I just appeal that people respect that,” Maila said.
The case in Potchefstroom was not the first reported Ebola scare in the past few months.
Last Friday, the NICD confirmed that a man admitted to Life Fourways Hospital after returning from west Africa had died of an underlying cardiac problem with bacterial sepsis and not Ebola.
In August, Motsoaledi dismissed reports that a pregnant woman with a high fever at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg was diagnosed with Ebola.
In July, the NICD also dismissed rumours that a man was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria with Ebola after he returned from Nigeria.
In an update about the global impact of Ebola by the NICD released on Wednesday, the institute said 7 470 cases – including confirmed, probable and suspected – had been reported in the virus’s epicentre of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as of September 30.
These cases included 3 431 deaths, which are also made up of confirmed, probable and suspected cases.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has had 43 suspected Ebola deaths, while Nigeria has had seven confirmed deaths.
On Wednesday, Maila said South Africa was prepared for a potential case of Ebola.
“We have identified 11 hospitals around the country to deal with patients who could be affected by Ebola. If anything happens, and someone is discovered to have Ebola, we can send them to these hospitals,” he said.
The hospitals had isolation facilities and protective clothing. Gauteng and the Eastern Cape each had two identified hospitals, while the remaining seven provinces had one each.
Motsoaledi is expected to announce an Ebola response fund on Friday.
South Africa set up the fund to mobilise resources from the business community to help fight the outbreak of the disease. – Additional reporting by Sapa