The confusion over cases of Ebola in Tanzania still isn’t resolved, and the World Health Organization says it’s not getting the information it needs from the East African nation nearly two weeks after it first heard of a suspected case in Dar es Salaam.
That’s according to a WHO statement issued Saturday that was intended to shed light on a situation that could threaten efforts to contain the regional Ebola outbreak.
WHO says that on September 10, it was made aware through unofficial reports of a fatality in Tanzania’s largest city, home to more than 4 million people. The death was linked to a suspected Ebola case, possibly originating in Uganda, and there were also reports from unofficial sources that confirmed a positive Ebola test for the patient. Meanwhile, the contacts from that case were reportedly “quarantined in various sites in the country.”
Information about a second suspected case came on September 12, with reports the patient was hospitalized in Dar es Salaam. By then, WHO acknowledged the Tanzanian Ebola rumor and said it was sharing information in keeping with international health regulations. Tanzania, it says, still isn’t doing that, although the government did tell WHO last week that it doesn’t have any confirmed cases of Ebola.
“Despite several requests, WHO did not receive further details of any of these cases from Tanzanian authorities,” the organization said in its new statement.
Reports of a third case came three days ago, and WHO immediately requested data from Tanzania – which responded, again, by saying it doesn’t have any Ebola cases.
“However, to date, clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed for differential diagnosis of those patients have not been communicated to WHO,” the organization said. “This information is required for WHO to be able to fully assess of the potential risk posed by this event.”
The rare statement comes as the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which borders several nations including Tanzania, continues to deal with an Ebola outbreak that began more than a year ago. The death toll stands at 2,114, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases.
Image: ALIMA file