‘Tanzania safe from Marburg virus’

JUST a few weeks after it was initially discovered, Tanzania has successfully controlled the outbreak of the Marburg virus disease (MVD) and prevented its spread, the government has said.

Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu told reporters on Tuesday in Dar es Salaam that it was essential for the public to remain vigilant in order to prevent new infections, end stigma and rehabilitate but also reintegrate survivors.

“Let me reassure Tanzanians and the international community that Bukoba, Kagera and Tanzania are all safe from MVD.” So, let us continue with our activities and journey fearlessly.

“Even in Maruku and Kanyangereko Wards, where the disease has so far been reported, it is stable, and all development activities, including schools, markets, churches, and mosques, are continuing as usual,” she said.

Ms Mwalimu added that they anticipate the outbreak, which only affected a small portion of the Kagera Region, to end soon in compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Ministry of Health announced the outbreak on 21st March 2023, after laboratory tests were carried out following reports of cases and deaths in  Maruku and Kanyangereko Wards of Bukoba District Council in Kagera Region.

Tanzania’s National Public Health Laboratory analysed samples to determine the cause of illness after eight people developed symptoms including fever, vomiting, bleeding and renal failure.

Five of the eight cases, including a health worker died and the remaining three were receiving treatment. A total of 212 contacts were identified and are being monitored.

When the disease was discovered, Ms Mwalimu said that the Kagera Regional Commissioner’s office and the entire community have continued to take action to deal with and control it.

“The disease has not spread past the two wards of Bukoba Rural that were impacted,” Ms Mwalimu said.

She stated that there were no new patients or deaths as of yesterday. Furthermore, one of the three patients, a 26-year-old man, was discharged in good health.

“I hope that the community will welcome him and work with him in his daily activities.” “Two admitted patients are improving significantly in special facilities,” she said.

Of the 212 monitored contacts, 35 have completed a 21-day follow-up, and another 21 days of rigorous monitoring have been performed in the affected areas, according to Ms Mwalimu.

She said, “Because the MVD in the country has been managed in time, this is a very excellent report for us, the Ministry of Health, the government, and the nation as a whole.”

Minister Mwalimu said the government still encourages the public and especially the Kagera Region to continue taking precautions, control the disease and prevent new infections in the community.

She reiterated that if anyone in the community exhibits symptoms of high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding, or weakness, should report it immediately by dialing the 199 toll-free numbers in order to get the help of experts and take appropriate measures.

“One should also avoid touching the patient or body fluids, including saliva, tears, blood, urine, faeces, as well as the patient’s bedding and clothes without protection. In addition, let’s continue to focus on washing hands with running water and soap, washing fruits and eating fully cooked food,” she said.

According to WHO, even after the last patient is discharged, everyone must continue to take precautions until the disease is declared eradicated.

Furthermore, she reminded health workers across the country to continue to strengthen preventive measures in all centres and to follow infection prevention and control (IPC) regulations at all times when providing services.

The US government last week announced its plan to provide 1.3 million US dollars (equivalent to 3bn/-) to support Tanzania’s efforts to contain Marburg virus disease.

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