The World Health Organization has issued a remarkable statement raising questions on whether Tanzania is covering up possible cases of the lethal Ebola virus, a significant trigger for concern throughout a regional outbreak that has been announced a rare global health emergency.
The statement Saturday says Tanzania’s government “despite several requests” is refusing to share the outcomes of its investigations into various patients with Ebola-like symptoms and is refusing to ship patient samples to an outside WHO partner lab.
Tanzania’s government, which has mentioned it has no Ebola cases, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Sunday. The cases could be the first-ever Ebola infections confirmed within the East African country.
The United Nations health agency says it was made aware on Sept. 10 of the loss of life in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, of a patient suspected to have Ebola. A day later, it received unofficial reports that an Ebola test had come back positive. On Thursday, it obtained unofficial reports that a contact of the patient, who had traveled widely in the country, was sick and hospitalized.
A rapid response is essential in containing Ebola, which may be deadly in up to 90% of cases and is most frequently spread by close contact with bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or with contaminated objects.
The WHO statement mentioned the lack of knowledge from Tanzania made it tough to evaluate potential dangers.
The Ebola outbreak based in neighboring Congo has infected over 3,000 folks and killed almost 2,000 of them. A couple of cases have been confirmed in neighboring Uganda as properly, and other neighboring countries have been preparing for the outbreak’s potential spread.
That is not the first time health officials have raised serious questions about the suspected Tanzania cases. On Monday, the U.S. health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, informed reporters in Uganda that he and others have been “very concerned about the lack of transparency” in Tanzania.
Critics have shown increasing alarm as Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s government has restricted access to key information and cracked down on perceived dissent. Lawmakers recently approved a modification to a statistics law to make it a crime to distribute information not sanctioned by the government or which contradicts the government.