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Minister allays ebola fears

By Macdonald Thom:

Health and Population Services Minister, Jappie Mhango, has said the government is doing its best to keep ebola at bay in the country.

The outbreak started in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in August last year and had, as of August 4 2019, infected 2,763 people, killing 1,849 of them.

At a press conference in Lilongwe yesterday, Mhango said, with technical guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), his ministry was implementing activities aimed at preventing the outbreak of ebola in the country.

“I would like to assure the public in the country that the Malawi Government, through my ministry, is doing everything possible to ensure that the ebola virus is not imported into our country. No ebola case, and I repeat, no ebola case, has so far been detected in Malawi and in the countries that share borders with Malawi.

“In the unlikely event that ebola is detected in the country, my ministry is ready to manage the situation. My ministry will continue working with the World Health Organisation to monitor the ebola outbreak in DRC,” Mhango said.

Mhango said, among other strategies, his ministry had been convening cluster meetings regularly to discuss the response to ebola, notably the point that refugees from the DRC are being screened before they enter Malawi.

WHO Representative, Nonhlanhla Dlamini, said, although the overall risk of ebola at national and regional levels remained high, the risk at the global level remained low.

“The risk continues to be reviewed according to the evolution of the outbreak. Substantial rates of transmission continue within the outbreak – affected areas of North Kivu and Ituri provinces,” Dlamini said.

She said WHO was committed to supporting Malawi as the country was implementing the Ebola Preparedness and Response Plan.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara, Sudan, and Yambuku, DRC, near a river called Ebola. It is viral illness often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

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