Tanzania denies rumours of an Ebola outbreak

Tanzania under the microscope

There are reports of an unexplained disease with Ebola-like symptoms in Tanzania, although the country has denied that there have been any suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola.

The World Health Organization suggested that the country has not fully co-operated and has withheld important information about cases. This is what it said in a statement last month: “On 19 September 2019, through its regular event-based surveillance process, WHO was made aware of unofficial reports regarding a contact of the initially presumptive case of [Ebola] who was reported to be sick and hospitalised. 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. This information is required for WHO to be able to fully assess the potential risk posed by this event.”

All countries must co-operate in the fight against Ebola

Allegedly, Tanzania has insisted that its tests show that the disease is not Ebola. WHO is continuing to investigate the situation; according to a spokesperson, ‘discussions are ongoing at the highest level’. Dr Yonas Woldemariam, the WHO representative in Uganda, said: “This mysterious disease has to be investigated and samples have to be tested. We couldn’t rule out any of the viral heamorrhagic fevers and the investigation will continue.”

The idea that the country might be purposefully withholding information is frightening. All countries must co-operate in the fight against Ebola, and Tanzania is required to provide the necessary information in line with its commitments under the global health security agenda to prevent infectious disease from spreading across borders.

On the FCO website, Ebola has been listed as a potential threat in Tanzania and other countries neighbouring the DRC since May 2018. According to the FCO, this travel advice will be updated as new information becomes available.