01 Aug 2014 14:20pm
WINDHOEK, 01 AUG (NAMPA) The Ministry of Health has ruled out the Ebola virus as the cause of illness of a passenger who arrived at the Hosea Kutako International Airport on a flight from Johannesburg Friday morning.
The aircraft, which landed at the airport at 07h32 was quarantined after it was suspected that one of the passengers had contracted the deadly Ebola virus.
The passenger was a Namibian citizen and was cleared of the virus after thorough testing by a team from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS).
Air Namibia spokesperson Wimpie van Vuuren told Nampa upon enquiry on Friday that airport officials received a report that a passenger on flight SW 722 from Johannesburg, South Africa had exhibited suspicious symptoms.
As a precautionary measure, it was reported to the Ministry of Health and Social Services because it is our responsibility towards the Namibian nation not to bring in any cases which can expose the rest of the country, he stated.
A medical team from the MOHSS had been dispatched to the airport to do a medical evaluation, the Namibia Airports Company (NAC)s Strategic Executive for Business Strategy, Toska Sem said.
All passengers were screened and they were finally allowed to disembark at around 11h30.
The chairperson of the National Health Emergency Management Committee, Dr Jack Vries said at a media briefing at the airport 111 passengers had arrived on the flight from countries such as France, South Africa, Italy, and the United States of America.
The passenger suspected of having the virus was isolated on the plane and tested. It was determined that he had been in Zanzibar and Ethiopia before travelling to Johannesburg on his way back to Namibia.
Vries noted that the man did not have a fever, sore throat or headache. He did however have a rash which was thought to have been an allergic reaction to fish.
He developed a typical allergic rash, Vries said, adding that the man has also not been in contact with any suspicious persons who might have had Ebola.
The man was given a clean bill of health and released. He was also told that should he exhibit any of the symptoms associated with Ebola, he should report to the nearest health facility.
Information obtained from international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday said Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are struggling to contain the epidemic, which has infected more than 1,300 people since the start of the year, hit major cities and sparked alarm over its possible spread to other nations.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the death toll by 57 to 729 on Thursday, announcing that 122 new cases had been detected between Thursday and Sunday last week.
Ebola, which has no vaccine, causes severe muscular pains, fever, headaches and in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
The AFP reported that it has killed around two-thirds of those it has infected since its emergence in 1976, although the death rate in the current outbreak is lower at 55 per cent.
Fears that it could spread to other continents through air travel have been growing, with European and Asian countries on alert, alongside African countries outside the Ebola crisis zone.