Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi makes statement on False SA Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Scare

Part of the Department of Health's, health minister's media release:

14 August 2014:

‘I have called this Press Conference as part of continuous briefing, information distribution and education to the public about the ongoing problem of Ebola Virus Disease in Africa.

I was going to issue this media statement tomorrow because that is what I had planned, but I am calling you here today and at this hour because there are compelling reasons for me to do so.

This past Tuesday, 12 August 2014, Deputy Minister Joe Phaahla and I spent about 2 hours at the Southern Sun Hotel at the OR Tambo International Airport, with Members of Parliament – of the Portfolio Committee on Health.

The ANC was there, the DA was there, the EFF was there, the AIC was there and the NFP was also there.

After I gave them a thorough, very thorough briefing about the situation and our state of readiness, they were satisfied.

We agreed unanimously that no political party must try to play political games with Ebola. It is irresponsible and should be below the dignity of any party to play politics in the serious situation that is playing itself in West Africa.

This unanimous agreement with all political parties does not seem to be respected by some Members in some political parties.

On the 28 July 2014 a lady arrived in South Africa at the OR Tambo International Airport from Equatorial Guinea via Dubai. She was scanned as we do in all our ports of entry.

The scan revealed no fever and she had no symptom of Ebola. She was allowed into the country like any other visitor.

She now reappeared and was admitted to Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital because she was in labour.

She had fever which she said she developed on 11 August 2014 on admission.

SHE HAD NO OTHER SYMPTOM OR SIGNS RELATED TO EBOLA – a situation that has been known on her day of entry.

She had no history of contact with sick or deceased people in her country. She did not handle or slaughter any wild animal back home.

But out of vigilance, she was isolated at the hospital and normal protocols were followed in the same way we do when we encounter a patient with suspected Viral Haemorrhage Fever, that includes Ebola.

I must state however that in her case the only thing that made us follow protocols is simply that she is from Guinea and she had a high temperature. Coming from Guinea and having a high temperature does not necessarily make a case of Ebola.

I must emphasise that most people coming from West Africa even with fever do not necessarily have Ebola. Be that as it may, we took precautions and took blood samples which were sent to the NICD today.

While still waiting for the results, Mr Jack Bloem of the DA released a statement which reads as follows: “I have received information that there is a suspected Ebola case at the Rahima Moosa Hospital in west Johannesburg.

The patient is from Guinea and is presently being kept in isolation.

If it is a confirmed Ebola case, then the patient will be transferred to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital which has been designated to treat Ebola with all due safeguards.

This is a serious situation. The Gauteng Health Department must provide full information to allay public fears, and tracing must be done to find any people who were in close contact with this particular patient.”

This statement sent the media into frenzy and we were inundated with questions throughout the whole afternoon. NICD worked very fast – very very fast and released her results at 3pm.

I wish to inform you now, that Mr Jack Bloem and some of you will be disappointed or are disappointed because the results are negative – yes, NICD did a PCR (Polemerase Chain Reaction) on the blood sample. The results are negative for Ebola.

NICD even decided to perform another test – a serology test which also proved negative.

This second test was not even necessary but had to be done in the light of the mischief played by the likes of Mr Jack Bloem.

Well, I have got a message for Mr Bloem. I do not understand by any stretch of imagination, how an honoured citizen of a country can itch for his country to get Ebola, because it looks like that is what he is itching for.

If Mr Bloem wants to be famous on the back of Ebola, he must be a little bit patient, Ebola has not yet arrived in this country.

Ladies and gentlemen, our systems are working and we are combat ready. We have delivered Biosafety equipment to the eleven (11) hospitals selected to treat Ebola in our country.

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