A ZIMBABWEAN national tested negative for the deadly Ebola virus in Kenya after exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms, it has emerged.
But there are growing fears among locals that the country is not ready to deal with the disease should it strike as evidenced by the struggle to contain waterborne diseases like typhoid.
Ebola has killed more than 1 000 people in West Africa with most countries now closing their borders to travellers from states with high cases of the disease.
The Zimbabwean national was one of four, including a Liberian national and two Nigerians, who had recently travelled to Kenya.
Kenya’s Health minister James Macharia was quoted in the media as saying the Zimbabwean and the other three suspected cases of Ebola in Kenya had all tested negative.
The Zimbabwean was reportedly working in South Africa and travelling to Sierra Leone.
Kenya Airways has since announced that it will not allow passengers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone into the country starting tomorrow.
Observers yesterday said due to Zimbabwe’s failure to deal with waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, the government was not sincere in claiming that it had the Ebola threat under control.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said Zimbabweans should be very careful about the deadly disease, adding that no one should travel to countries hit by the outbreak.
He said Zimbabwe was on high alert and screening all visitors from West Africa at all international airports.
“We are screening at all international airports, people from Sierra Leone, Guinea and other West African countries. We also follow up on them for 21 days,” he said.
“We discourage our nationals from travelling to those parts of the world unless there is serious business to attend to.
“Our people shouldn’t panic. There is no reported case of Ebola in Zimbabwe and Sadc, but our key message is prevention. People should be cautious because Ebola is deadly.”
South Africa has since offered to share with Sadc member states its technical skill and knowledge on the Ebola virus, which the World Health Organisation has declared an international public health emergency.
Meeting ahead of the 34th Sadc summit in Victoria Falls, the Sadc Council of Ministers urged member states to take advantage of the South African offer.
The council also directed the finance sub-committee to assess modalities for the establishment of a regional fund to assist member states in emergency situations.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi confirmed the Ebola issue was tabled for discussion.
South Africa’s Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the country’s Department of Health had put in place extensive measures for early detection and treatment of Ebola.
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of an infected person.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums and internal bleeding which can lead to organ collapse.