AT least 98 people have been put under Ebola quarantine in Harare after having travelled to Ebola-hit West African countries over the past few weeks.
Of the 98 people, 84 were coming from Nigeria and 46 of these have already been discharged after testing negative following the 21-day surveillance period under which the disease is expected to manifest.
Harare City Council health director Prosper Chonzi told NewsDay yesterday the surveillance and quarantine programmes formed the backbone of the country’s anti-Ebola drive.
The disease, which spreads through contact with infected body fluids, has wreaked havoc in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal and Liberia where it has claimed over 2 600 lives.
“If one is coming from West Africa, they are screened first at the ports of entry and if they do not have any signs and symptoms, we do not put them under quarantine, but we put them under surveillance for 21 days,” Chonzi said.
“Port health officials assess the people and then those who have been to the affected countries fill in forms which are then sent to us, so that we follow them up.
“We check on them every day and tell them to go about their business, but ask them not to move around unnecessarily so that in the event they are affected, it will be easy to trace them.”
Chonzi said after expiry of the 21-day gestation period for the Ebola virus, the monitored patients would be certified as free of the disease.
“For one to be put under quarantine, they would have one or two signs and symptoms associated with Ebola and if their history shows that they have been in contact with an Ebola patient, then we refer them to Wilkins Hospital (an infectitious disease hospital in Harare) where the procedure will go on,” Chonzi said.
“This is when we will take the specimen to South Africa where they will tell us what it is. If it tests positive for Ebola, they will tell us in four hours after receiving the specimen, then we know how to handle the case.”
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa last week quashed reports of an Ebola outbreak in the capital.