- Published on 10 October 2014
- Written by Staff Reporter
Wilkins Hospital in Harare was on Thursday closed amid reports that a suspected Ebola patient from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had been quarantined at the medical facility. But Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa said the patient had tested positive for malaria, and tests for Ebola were still being carried out.
"We are only doing tests and isolating the patient to determine how we can deal with an Ebola case when we encounter one. To us it's still a scare, the patient tested malaria positive so she has malaria. We are sending the specimens to South Africa to test the effectiveness of our system, in case we have a case. However, we are still treating the case as suspected Ebola and will perform all the necessary procedures while we are waiting for the results. We don’t have Ebola in Zimbabwe," he said.
Ebola, which spreads through contact with infected body fluids, has wreaked havoc in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia where it has killed nearly 4 000 people.
The Government designated Wilkins Hospital, which is owned by Harare City Council, as the isolation centre for the disease.
When the news crew visited Wilkins hospital, the gates were locked and patients, among them TB patients who had come to collect their drugs, were loitering outside.
Security guards manning the gates said the hospital had been closed till further notice.
Patients who were admitted at the institution were transferred to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Beatrice Infectious hospitals, while TB patients were also being referred to Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Addressing patients outside Wilkins, the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Hilda Bara said the facility had been temporarily shut down to monitor a suspected Ebola case.
"We have temporarily shut Wilkins to allow for tests on a suspected Ebola patient. We urge you to be patient. We cannot risk allow you to enter the medical facility. This is a temporary measure until the case is proven negative," Bara said.
But City Health Director Dr Prosper Chonzi refuted the reports that a suspected Ebola case was at Wilkins. He, however, confirmed a lady was under quarantine at the medical facility.
"Yes, I can confirm that we do have a female patient under quarantine. We did malaria rapid tests and she tested positive of malaria. It is unlikely that it is Ebola but the patient will remain in isolation," he said.
"Specimens will be sent to South Africa today (Thursday). The hospital will open if the case tests negative. The patient came through Parirenyatwa Hospital and she has a history of travelling to DRC Lubumbashi," Dr Chonzi said.
Chonzi said the patient had been under surveillance in the last 21 days but only got sick on the last day.