By Paidamoyo Chipunza
The government has strengthened its surveillance on all entry points into the country after the Democratic Republic of Congo reported new cases of Ebola recently.
Principal director responsible for preventive services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Gibson Mhlanga said although the risk of getting Ebola in Zimbabwe was low, it was important to remain on high alert.
“We are aware of the cases in DRC and we have since strengthened our port health activities at all entry points, that is the airport and boarder points,” he said. “People are being screened as they come in.”
Dr Mhlanga said they were also imparting health education to travellers on symptoms of Ebola, so that anyone suspected of having the disease was quickly assisted.
He said they had also sent communication to all provincial medical directorates and health staff to ensure that everyone was on high alert.
“So, we are on high alert and prepared to deal with any case that might arise,” said Dr Mhlanga. “Remember, this is not the first time that we have had to prepare for Ebola, so we have just reactivated our systems we already had in place.”
Since April 22, the Ministry of Health in the DRC reported 11 suspected Ebola cases in the Likati health zone, Bas Uele Province in the north, bordering the Central Africa Republic.
The National Institute of Biomedical Research in Kinshasa on May 11 confirmed one positive case among the five samples collected.
The first suspected case was of a 39-year-old male who presented onset symptoms on April 22 and died on arrival at a health facility.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Surveillance and Response Unit on Saturday also activated its emergency operational centre to monitor the DRC outbreak.
The unit is an Africa-wide mechanism to monitor disease outbreaks on the continent.
The Ebola outbreak is not the first to have occurred in the DRC, with several others recorded between 2014 and 1976 and the worst having claimed 280 people in 1976.
In 2014, several people died due to the outbreak that affected Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea but since June last year, these countries were declared Ebola free.