An Ebola scare hit the capital Harare yesterday after Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital was yesterday closed to the public after admitting a “suspected” Ebola patient.
However, Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said the patient had no Ebola but government was taking the opportunity to test its system to see how effectively it could respond in the event of a confirmed case of the highly contagious disease.
“The patient came to this hospital (Parirenyatwa Hospital) with fever, and high temperature; she was vomiting and bleeding, but our doctors did malaria tests and she was positive, so she has malaria,” Parirenyatwa said.
Patients who receive treatment and tablets from Wilkins were yesterday forced to go to other clinics in the capital after they found the gates to the institution closed.
The move followed the admission of a patient who had earlier been treated at Parirenyatwa Hospital on Wednesday with a fever and high temperature, resulting in the hospital authorities alerting the Harare City health department.
The patient – a Harare Polytechnic student from Democratic Republic of Congo was then transferred to Wilkins.
“We are only doing this to see how we would handle an Ebola case. To us it’s still a scare, the patient tested positive for malaria; so she has malaria.”
Parirenyatwa said government was sending specimens to South Africa to test the effectiveness of its system, in the event of an outbreak of the disease.
“However, we are still treating the case as suspected Ebola and will perform all the necessary procedures while we are waiting for the results. We don’t have Ebola in Zimbabwe,” the minister insisted.
Zimbabwe is on high alert for Ebola whose epicentre is West Africa where it has claimed over 3 000 lives mostly Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Southern African countries have also increased their surveillance programmes following reports that the DRC had recorded an Ebola case.