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SA man tests negative for ebola

A health and safety officer working in Liberia – who is on home leave in SA – is in a stable condition, according to a health department statement.

A 37-year-old South African man who was admitted to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg over the weekend to be monitored for ebola tested negative for the virus, the health department said on Monday. 

The man works as a health and safety officer in a mining operation in Liberia and arrived in South Africa earlier this month on home leave.

According to a health department statement released on Monday afternoon, his condition is stable. “We have also conducted the tests for malaria and the results are also negative. We are busy conducting further tests for other infections and continue with our appropriate management of the patient,” the statement said.  

In an earlier statement, the health department stated that the man had arrived in the country on August 6. On August 16, he consulted his doctor due to fever, who then contacted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in line with protocols from the health department to all private and public practitioners and health facilities.

“Based on results of the initial blood tests the decision was made to continue to monitor the patient at home and to repeat the blood tests yesterday [August 17]. His temperature increased and it was decided that he be admitted at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital for further assessment and investigations,” the statement said. 

‘Containing the ebola virus’

Meanwhile, a team from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has arrived in Sierra Leone to assist in “containing the ebola virus disease in that region”. 

More than 400 people have died from the ebola virus in Liberia, out of a total of 1 145 deaths recorded in West Africa by the World Health Organisation since March.

According to the health department, South Africa remains on high alert for the virus.

Elsewhere on the continent, Nigeria has 12 confirmed cases of the ebola virus, up from 10 at last week’s count, of which five have almost fully recovered, Nigeria’s health ministry said on Monday.

It said in a statement that 189 people in Lagos and six others in the southeastern city of Enugu were under surveillance. The death toll remained four, it said.

A doctor who had recovered had been discharged from hospital, the ministry said.

The ebola virus has killed more than 1 000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the outbreak began in March, and four people have died in Nigeria since it was brought to Lagos by a Liberian man on July 20.

Experimental drugs

“Patients under treatment have now been moved to the new 40 bed capacity isolation ward provided by the Lagos state government,” the Nigeria health ministry statement said.

It added that experimental drugs were in the process of being cleared for the treatment of ebola, although one, nano silver, had been rejected because it did not meet requirements.

Fighting the disease in Nigeria is complicated by the fact that doctors are on nationwide strike. The ministry of health sacked 16 000 doctors on Thursday after they refused to end their strike in the midst of an ebola epidemic.

Health care workers fighting to stop the spread in overcrowded and ill-equipped clinics often succumb to ebola themselves. The World Health Organisation says more than 170 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 81 have died.

The death toll from ebola is still climbing and the UN health agency faces questions over whether it should have declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” before August 8. – Additional reporting by Reuters

Guest Author

Mia Malan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Bhekisisa. She has worked in newsrooms in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Washington, DC, winning more than 30 awards for her radio, print and television work.