A suspected case of Ebola in Harare on Thursday sent shockwaves across the capital, forcing health officials to allay public fears saying the patient had only tested positive for malaria but was being screened for Ebola as a cautionary measure.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told a news conference in Harare that the unnamed patient - a female foreigner – was under isolation at Wilkins Hospital and that her blood samples had been sent to South Africa for further tests.
Unconfirmed reports say the patient is a female students at Harare Polytecnic and is a DRC citizen.
He urged the public not to panic. All patients at Wilkins have been evacuated and transferred to Parirenyatwa and Beatrice hospitals in the capital.
The World Health Organization says Ebola has killed close to 4,000 people in West Africa – the worst affected countries being Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leon.
Harare City Council health director Dr. Prosper Chonzi said investigations into the Wilkins case are continuing. Dr Chonzi said everything is under control and Zimbabweans must not panic.
Meanwhile, a top U.S. health official says Ebola is the biggest world health crisis since HIV/AIDS.
Ebola Worst Outbreak Since AIDS
Dr. Thomas Frieden spoke Thursday at World Bank headquarters in Washington during a meeting on the Ebola outbreak that has crippled three West African nations and has been detected in several other countries.
Frieden, who leads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicted the fight to wipe out the disease will be a long one because the virus keeps changing. He said the only outbreak he has seen resembling the current one is AIDS, and he added that the world community must work hard so this is not the next AIDS.
Ban speaks out
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world needs a "twentyfold resource mobilization" to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Ban spoke Thursday in Washington at a World Bank meeting on Ebola that included participation by high-level officials and the presidents of the hardest-hit nations -- Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone -- via videoconference.
Ban said a "surge in assistance" should include mobile labs, vehicles, helicopters, protective equipment, trained medical personnel, and medical evacuation capacities.