Tanzania denies hiding information on suspected Ebola cases

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania denied on Thursday it was withholding information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on suspected cases of Ebola, saying it was not hiding any outbreak of the disease in the country.

 “Ebola is known as a fast-spreading disease, whose impact can be felt globally. This is not a disease that the Tanzanian government can hide,” Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu told journalists in commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

“Reports suggesting that Tanzania has not been transparent about suspected cases of Ebola and is not sharing information with the WHO are false and should be ignored.”

Last month WHO said Tanzania had refused to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases.

The organisation said it was made aware on Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and was unofficially told the next day the person had tested positive for Ebola. [nL5N26D084]

This week the United States and Britain issued travel advisories to their citizens against Tanzania amid persisting Ebola concerns.

Days before WHO’s rebuke of Tanzanian authorities the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travelled to the country at the direction of U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar, who had also criticised the country for not sharing information.

Mwalimu said Tanzania has investigated some 28 suspected cases of Ebola over the past year, including two cases in September, but they all tested negative.

She said they had shared that information with WHO.

“We are committed to implement international health regulations in a transparent manner,” said Mwalimu.

Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spillovers of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a year-long outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people.

Tanzania and DRC share a border that is separated by a lake.

Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; editing by Elias Biryabarema and David Evans

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