Press Release On Ebola Scare In Zambia

On Monday 3rd September 2018, Zambian residents, more especially those living in Lusaka District got a scare of Ebola as news of a suspected Ebola Virus Disease patient admitted to the Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital in Lusaka was shared n social media. The following is a press statement given at a media briefing by the Honourable Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya MP,MCC on Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in DRC and Update on the Level of Preparedness in Zambia at the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, 4 September 2018.
Members of the press, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
There is no Ebola Virus Disease case in Zambia!
Allow me to update you on the current situation on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the level of preparedness in Zambia.
As you are aware, there is an EVD outbreak ongoing in DRC. According to the latest DRC Ministry of Health situation report issued on 3rd September  2018, a cumulative 122 (Confirmed 91 and Probable 31) with 82 deaths(Confirmed 51; Probable 31)  indicating a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) 66.4% from North Kivu and Ituri Province have been recorded. Eight (8) new cases are currently under admission with 3 pending laboratory confirmation.
According to their reports the outbreak is probably exacerbated by sporadic instances of high risk behavior including unsafe burial practices, reluctance towards contact tracing, vaccination and admissions to Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs), poor Infection Control Practices in some health centers and delayed health seeking behavior by some patients. The Global Health Community including the Africa CDC, WHO among others on the ground to support the DRC Ministry of Health (MoH) in containing and mitigating the outbreak in the areas already affected.
Yesterday, it was reported in some social media that a suspected EVD case was admitted to the Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital (LMTH) and this has caused panic and anxiety amongst members of the public.
May I take this opportunity to inform the public that contrary to the news circulating in the social media there is no case of EVD in Zambia.  Allow me to make a clarification and update you on the patient currently admitted to LMTH.  The patient is a 41 year old male who is a resident of Serenje District who came to Lusaka for a church camp meeting on 27th August 2018. He was already of ill health on travel. He presented with fever, discoloration of the skin resulting from bleeding underneath the skin and red patching in the white of the eye among other symptoms was immediately admitted and quarantined to rule out EVD.
On further investigation, our health workers made a tentative diagnosis of septicemia, a condition of blood infection with bacteria or other microorganisms. Further to that our laboratory investigations conducted at the University Of Zambia School Of Veterinary Medicine has ruled out Ebola Virus Disease.
Members of the Press, I must indicate that we are pleased by the response from media and I would like to encourage the general public to maintain such high levels of suspicion. However, I urge you, our friends in the media to work with us in communicating verified information to members of the public.
The levels of alert in the community are encouraging as it is our aim through our Event Based Surveillance System to have a highly sensitized public that is able to detect and quickly notify the public health authorities on increased incidences of illness and deaths in the community. Members of the press and general public at hand, this level of community response is encouraged and  I urge you all to be alert and sensitized to any indications of this devastating disease with the potential to disable and breakdown the livelihoods of our people and hamper economic stability.
I further urge our people to ensure that any suspected cases access health services to protect and prevent any outbreak in our country as part of our responsibility to the global health community.
Members of the Press distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my Ministry remains on high alert and continue to improve the detection and response capacities in the country through training of responders and equipping health facilities with requirements to respond.
Meanwhile, let me assure you members of the press and the general public that my Ministry has put in place, under the coordination of our Disease Intelligence wing, the Zambia National Public Health Institute, various mitigating and preventive measures that I shared with you two weeks ago.
As I speak, 7 (Seven) member Rapid Response Teams per district in North-Western Province are being trained in Solwezi to be followed by training on the Copperbelt. Prior to this training, other district teams have been trained in Northern and Luapula provinces considering their proximity to the DRC.
A plan is in place to get all provinces in a preparedness mode through capacity building including training of responders. I must reiterate that this activity was planned for late September 2018 but has been brought forward in view of the new outbreak in DRC.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia as host country of the Africa CDC Southern Africa Regional Collaborating Center is also supporting through the ZNPHI, member states in the SADC region in ensuring enhanced preparedness and response incase of an EVD threat in their countries as well as give support to DRC in mitigating the current outbreak.
Members of the press may I remind you all that EBV is a highly contagious disease caused by infection with the Ebola virus. It commonly presents as fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, unexplained bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus, and although a rare disease it is severe and often deadly.
Finally, I take this opportunity to assure the nation that all is under control considering that Government of the Republic of Zambia, under the able leadership of His Excellency the President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has taken all the necessary measures to ensure heightened prevention, preparedness and response activities against Ebola. I thank you!
The DRC is going through a second Ebola Outbreak within 4 months, with the first having hit the country in Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province on 4th April, 2018.
Zambia is threatened by the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in the DRC sharing a large boarder stretch of 1,930km along five of its provinces, Northern, Luapula, Central, Copperbelt and Northwestern with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With the unstable civil environment in the DRC, the threat is exacerbated by the movement of people seeking refuge in Zambia.
The Ministry of Health has indicated various activities in place to assure the security of the people in the country such as heightened surveillance, trained rapid response teams to support any event of EBV and other infectious diseases of public health concern, activation of high level committees to support technical and policy direction.
The sensitisation of the community to recognise and notify events of public health importance is an important entity in surveillance and public health security. The responses to the publication in social media of the latest suspected EVD case is evidence of the interest of the people in public health security.
Communication among public health authorities, media and the general public is important in enhancing detection, notification and response to manage timely any public health events of concern.
Mazyanga L Mazaba
The Health Press Zambia @ the Zambia National Public Health Institute