Two sailors suspected to have contracted Ebola, test positive for malaria instead. Picture: NSRI

Two sailors have died at a Durban private hospital after being airlifted from a ship off the coast of Port St Johns. 

Although it was suspected that they had Ebola, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), blood tests later confirmed that they had malaria. 

The NICD said they were contacted in the early hours of Thursday morning for assistance with the diagnosis and management of the two seamen. 

They had been evacuated from the which ship which was travelling via Abijan, in the Ivory Coast were thousands of people died from Ebola during an outbreak which took more than two years before being brought under control last year. 

The NSRI, which was part of the evacuation, said the men were both 53 years old and from Panama and the Philippines. Onboard an air ambulance, the Filipino man’s heart failed but he was successfully resuscitated. 

However, both men later died at the hospital. 

“Appropriate infection prevention and control procedures were adhered to. Extremely high parasite loads were observed in both cases. We have confirmed that no additional seamen on board the ship are ill. No further actions are required,” said the NICD.

The Mercury