Ebola virus: Tanzania failing to provide details, WHO says

GENEVA, The World Health Organization (WHO) has rebuked Tanzania for failing to provide information about possible Ebola virus infections.

The WHO said it had learned of one suspected fatal case in Dar es Salaam and two others but, despite repeated requests, was given no information.

A WHO statement said that on Sept 10 the organisation had learned of a suspected infection in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's most populous city, in what would be the country's first Ebola case.

It said the patient had been to Uganda, shown symptoms of Ebola in August, tested positive and died on Sept 8. It said that the woman's contacts had been quarantined.

The WHO said it had unofficial reports of two other possible cases.

It said: Despite several requests, WHO did not receive further details of any of these cases from Tanzanian authorities.

It added: The limited available official information from Tanzanian authorities represents a challenge for assessing the risk posed by this event.

On Sept 14, Tanzania said there were no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in the country.

The latest Ebola outbreak began in the eastern DR Congo in August last year and is the biggest of 10 Ebola outbreaks to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

The latest outbreak has killed more than 2,100 in eastern DR Congo, with Uganda battling to stop any spread.

Four people have died after being diagnosed with the virus in Uganda, which has maintained largely successful screening centres along its border.

Meanwhile, DR CONGO authorities are planning to use a second Ebola vaccine to help control the outbreak.

But DR Congo's Ebola response team have not yet said when it will be introduced.

Leading health experts have said that the second vaccine is safe and could be an important tool in holding back the spread of the virus.

The current vaccine, which is in short supply, is only being given to health workers and people who might have been exposed to the virus.

The Congolese authorities intend to use the second vaccine outside the infected areas in Ituri and North Kivu provinces. They first want to protect the small Congolese traders who regularly cross into Rwanda.

There have been concerns that the new vaccine � which requires two injections at least 25 days apart � may be difficult to administer in a region where the population is highly mobile, and insecurity is rife.

Insecurity in the east of the country and people's suspicions of treatments have hampered efforts.

About 200 health facilities have been attacked in the country this year, causing disruption to vaccinations and treatments. In one incident, family members assaulted health workers who were overseeing the burial of their relative.

In July, the WHO declared the Ebola crisis in DR Congo a public health emergency of international concern.

But it is dwarfed by the West African epidemic of 2014-16, which affected 28,616 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. About 11,310 people died in what was the largest outbreak of the virus ever recorded.

Source: NAM News Network