THE government has discouraged Zimbabweans from flocking to Nigeria in search of spiritual healing saying such pilgrims are at risk of contracting the deadly Ebola virus, in an apparent warning to popular evangelist Temitope Balogun “TB” Joshua’s followers.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa yesterday revealed that last week 50 Zimbabweans returned from Nigeria where they had attended prayer sessions.
Ebola has killed more than 1 145 people in West Africa and countries bordering the affected states — Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone — have shut their borders to travellers from these states as a way of curbing the virus.
Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe had a low risk of having an outbreak, but warned that it could be jeopardised by visits to countries ravaged by the disease.
“Zimbabwe and Southern Africa as a whole is at low risk of Ebola, but we are on the lookout for it. We are closely monitoring everyone from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
“Anyone from those countries will be monitored daily for 21 days for any symptoms,” said Parirenyatwa at the Mpilo Hospital Donor Conference in Bulawayo yesterday.
“However, there is a worrying issue. Last week 50 locals returned from Nigeria from prayer sessions with a prophet there.
“That’s a huge number. We appeal to Zimbabweans to immediately stop visiting those countries, unless it’s for an urgent issue.
“But 50 people from prayers in Nigeria, please tell that prophet that we are postponing any engagements,” he said without mentioning the prophet.
Zimbabweans, including high profile politicians, have in recent years been travelling to attend renowned Nigerian prophet TB Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations healing sessions.
Last year, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai visited the popular prophet and a video showing him falling onto a chair when TB Joshua laid hands on him went viral.
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, gums and internal bleeding which can lead to an organ collapse.