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A HARARE Polytechnic student who was suspected to be suffering from Ebola has tested negative to the disease.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said samples sent to South Africa last week had tested negative for the disease adding the student from DRC was instead suffering from malaria.

He added that the student had since been discharged from hospital adding she will soon resume her studies at the polytechnic.

"The results arrived yesterday (Tuesday) evening and they are negative confirming our initial diagnosis that it was malaria. The patient responded very well to treatment. While we have never been in doubt that she was not an Ebola patient it was important that we followed all processes and show the nation that we have nothing to hide," said Parirenyatwa.

The minister added that Zimbabwe does "not have a case of Ebola yet and we hope we will not have it".

Parirenyatwa said the government will continue to work round the clock to prevent the spread of the disease into the country.
He said the government has thus far committed no less than $132 million with a further $3,5 million set to be spent on Ebola programmes.

Prosper Chonzi, Harare's director of health, said the student has since been handed over to officials at the Polytechnic.

"In as much as we were convinced she was suffering from malaria, I can now safely say there is no Ebola in the country. We will also send our team of officials to Harare Polytechnic to explain to the principal and other students that she has never had Ebola to guard against stigma because some students might be scared of interacting with her. We just want to clear fears that could have risen on the part of her fellow students," he said.

Chonzi however said it was important that the country remained vigilant against the virus that has claimed more than 4 000 lives mostly in West Africa and caused anxiety across the globe.

The virus has now been reported to have spread as far as the United States and Spain.

"This doesn't mean that we have to relax, we have to be vigilant to avoid any penetration. It's good that we start teaching the public about common practices like hand-washing," Chonzi said.

"We also urge people not to touch or wash the bodies of people who succumb to unknown or unusual illnesses; this can be a source of infection."

Wilkins Infectious Hospital was last week forced to shut down following the suspected Ebola case.

Chonzi said normal services at the hospital will resume soon.

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