Kenya issues Ebola alert after DR Congo outbreak

May 17, 2017 9:12 am
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A statement from the Ministry of Health said that holding rooms at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and other border points have been reactivated to isolate suspected cases/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – The Kenyan Government has issued an Ebola alert following an outbreak of the viral disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A statement from the Ministry of Health said that holding rooms at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and other border points have been reactivated to isolate suspected cases.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko stated that the ministry has also re-activated rapid response teams and will follow up cases of travellers with elevated body temperature, and asymptomatic cases.

“On 9th May, the World Health Organisation was informed of a cluster of undiagnosed illness and deaths including hemorrhagic symptoms in Likati Health zone, Bas Uele Province in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering the Central African Republic,” he indicated.

He stated that high risk cases will be identified while awaiting possible transfer to isolation facilities after thorough assessment.

“The outbreak was declared by the WHO following one positive test for Ebola virus in a specialised laboratory in the capital Kinshasa while additional laboratory samples are currently being tested,” he said.

He revealed that since April 12, nine suspected cases including three deaths have been reported. Six people are currently hospitalised.

“The following measures have been taken. Strengthened screening and surveillance of travellers with elevated body temperatures and asymptomatic symptoms with history of travel from and /or through DRC,” he explained.

Kioko said this will include and is not limited to personal details, location of origin, history of contact with potential Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), presence of any suggestive signs and symptoms of EVD, and contact details while in the country.

He said the information will be collected to aid personal risk assessment and daily follow-ups for 21 days if they will still be residents.

He further said that the diagnostic services at KEMRI, isolation/treatment centres at Kenyatta National Hospital and regional facilities have been put on high alert to enhance capacity to detect and respond effectively, and to give proper care to patients suspected to have Ebola.

“The ministry has an adequate stock of personal protective equipment that are stored in strategic regional hospitals for use if needed. These include at least 5,000 special full body suits used in situations of highly infectious material,” he said.

He however assured Kenyans that there is no suspected case of the virus within the country but cautioned on the need for vigilance.

“The government through the Ministry of Health remains committed to ensure appropriate and effective measures are instituted in order to protect Kenyans and the general public from the Ebola virus.”

The new Ebola outbreak in the Congo is the first on the continent since a crisis that began at the end of 2013 in West Africa that killed 11,300 people.

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