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THE Ministry of Health yesterday issued a statement dispelling fears of a suspected Ebola case at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.

This followed reports that a man, whose age and name could not be ascertained before going to print, was said to have died at Parirenyatwa yesterday after exhibiting symptoms related to Ebola. According to the reports, the man was supposed to be transferred to Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital after exhibiting Ebola symptoms.

My Zimbabwe News received an email saying: "First case of Ebola has been diagnosed at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare. For public not to panic, the government has decided not to announce it. Be careful whom you greet or buy clothes from. Ebola has hit Zimbabwe. Only God can save us on this one. Ebola is deadly. You can go to Parirenyatwa and check for yourself."

But the Ministry of Health yesterday insisted that no cases had been detected.

"Be assured that the hospital did not at any time detect any Ebola cases. Patients are screened in line with the set protocol of the Ministry of Health Child Care regarding Ebola Virus Diseases (EVD) Management. Tents have been availed to screen patients before they attended to at Accident and Emergency Department and Outpatients Department respectively," the ministry said.

If any suspect cases are identified they will be transferred to Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital."

Parirenyatwa Hospital chief executive officer Thomas Zigora also said no case of Ebola had been reported.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has intensified its Ebola surveillance programme with health officials saying the country had recently sent its first specimen to South Africa to test-check the screening process.

Harare City Council's director of health services, Prosper Chonzi, confirmed the development.

"So far we have sent a specimen to South Africa for testing, but not because it is Ebola, but just suspect, and we also wanted to take the opportunity to test the system," Chonzi said.

"There is need for us to know how long the process will take from the time we receive the information and send it to South Africa and get the results back, so the specimen got there today (yesterday) and they are working on it. If the specimen had tested positive for Ebola, we would have been told in about four hours, but because it is not they just continue to investigate so that they tell us what it is."

Ebola has wreaked havoc in West Africa with Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia being the most affected countries.

As of September 10, the World Health Organisation and the United States-based Centres for Disease Control reported a total of 4 846 suspected cases and 2 375 deaths(2 898 cases and 1 386 deaths being laboratory confirmed).

Zimbabwe went on high alert after Ebola cases were reported in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo. However, there are still fears that Zimbabwe will not be able to handle the deadly disease if it truly hits the nation.

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