WALVIS BAY – A private doctor at Walvis Bay reportedly refused to attend to a sick patient on board of a ship believed to have sailed from Lagos in Nigeria, on grounds the patient might have contracted Ebola.
By Tuesday the number of confirmed Ebola cases in Nigeria stood at 21 including eight confirmed deaths while 213 people are currently under surveillance.
The ship with the sick patient that is docked at Walvis Bay sailed from Lagos, according to a source.
A source at the Walvis Bay State hospital yesterday said they had to send a registered nurse to the vessel to provide medical care to the sick man on board as no private facility apparently wanted to treat the patient.
The source told New Era that normally all people that get sick on board of vessels are treated by private doctors and not by the state. “This time no one wanted to see the patient and we had no choice but to send one of our nurses. But we are also scared,” the source at the hospital told New Era.
It was confirmed yesterday the man did not show any symptoms of Ebola for which there is no cure.
When contacted with regards to the incident, the chairman of National Health Emergency Management Committee, Dr Jack Vries said the incident was brought under his attention this morning and after consultations he ruled out Ebola. After which he requested the state hospital to send a doctor or a registered nurse to the vessel to treat the patient.
“I am aware that some private doctors did not want to see the patient. Although the patient came from Lagos with the vessel, Ebola was ruled out instantly and he was treated by the state, no one should be refused medical attention, although in the case of Ebola, one should protect yourself first,” Vries explained.
Vries said to avoid the recurence of similar incidents he is currently drafting a circular that will be sent to all private medical facilities. “This circular has clear guidelines on how to respond in case someone is suspected of showing signs of Ebola and will be sent to the Medical and Dental Council of Namibia, Namibian Association of private hospitals and the Erongo medical Group among others and will be further circulated to their members,” Vries told New Era.
He said the medical fraternity needs to be vigilant as Namibia, like any other country is vulnerable to the disease. “If any health facility detects or suspects anyone of showing symptoms of Ebola, they are required to contact me after which we will swiftly transport the person to the Windhoek Central hospital for observation,” explained Vries. Key stakeholders in the Erongo last week also met to formulate a strategy to protect Erongo from the fatal disease, seeing that the town is vulnerable.
The Walvis Bay Airport and Namport were identified as two entry points that are at risk due to the high number of foreign travellers.
Stakeholders then indicated it is important to not only have measures in place for the official entry points, such as the harbour and airport, but to formulate a system for foreign vessels dropping anchors around the area and making use of the bay as well.
Ebola causes flu-like symptoms including fever. In worst cases, it causes unstoppable bleeding. It spreads among humans via bodily fluids including sweat, so can be spread by simply touching an infected person.
With no vaccine, patients believed to have caught the virus have to be isolated to stop further infection. No case of Ebola was ever reported in Namibia and this disease seems confined to west African countries of Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea.