Windhoek-The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, yesterday assured that there is no need for Namibians to panic over reports of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a telephonic interview with New Era yesterday, Haufiku said although there is no need to panic at this stage “we need to be alert and awake”.
“We can’t say we are absolutely secure because travelling is easy … absolutely no one is safe in this,” he said, adding that people can be exposed to Ebola through travelling and contact with people exposed to Ebola.
There would be screenings at the various border points such as Hosea Kutako International Airport, Katima Mulilo Bridge, Oshikango, Walvis Bay port as well as the southern border where people travel to and from South Africa.
This surveillance measure is to detect the disease early, the minister explained. Ebola symptoms are like those of other hemorrphagic fevers as they are non-specific at the beginning. This may include nausea and vomiting, skin rash and generally being unwell, explained the health minister.
As the symptoms progress they may include bleeding through the mouth, nose and even anus. “That when it’s complicating,” he said. The doctors then have to screen persons with such symptoms to also find out whether they had travelled to a country battling Ebola, he explained.
Manga Libita of the Ministry of Health and Social Services explained that she got confirmation from Ohangwena indicating that they have a screening point at Oshikango border post. By the time of going to print it could not be confirmed whether the other screening points are active.
Haufiku said the public would be updated regularly on developments of the outbreak in the neighbouring country. He said he would be travelling to meet with the DRC health minister and “[to] have a word and ask at a more personal level what the situation is like in the DRC”.
CNN reported that three people have died from an Ebola outbreak in a remote northern region of the DRC and health officials are travelling to the central African country in response to a rising number of suspected cases.
Last week, the World Health Organisation reported one Ebola-related death and the possibility of two others.
On Saturday, the organization confirmed the other two deaths were also Ebola-related.
The first case, reported on April 22, involved a 45-year-old man. The taxi driver who took the man to hospital and a person who cared for the man both became sick and later died, CNN reported.