Dec 17, 2009, 12:21 PM
The patient (name withheld) was rushed to the JFP hospital in Bundung while bleeding from the nose, according to state health authorities.
The authorities have confirmed that The Gambia is still an Ebola-free nation, while calling for calm and strict observance of Ebola-prevention procedures, such as frequent washing of hands and proper hygiene.
Briefing journalists at the state national broadcaster, the director of Health Promotion and Education, Momodou Njai, who clarified the issue on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, refuted the rumours as “misleading and unfounded”.
“We are here to clear the air and to tell the people that the patient at that hospital is a known tuberculosis patient,” he announced.
“She died of TB and we know that when TB is chronic in an individual the person bleeds. Because they saw blood coming from the person’s nose, many panicked. There is no case of Ebola. There is also no suspected case of Ebola in this country. Whenever you talk about Ebola, people panic and we have been trying to address the issue of fear. We have been going out and telling people that the disease is deadly, but it is treatable when reported early.”
Describing the situation as “just rumours”, with clear evidence of the patient’s documents, Mr Njai said she was a TB patient who had been going to that hospital for treatment, and had never travelled out of The Gambia.
“She lives around Jammeh Foundation Hospital and she was not an Ebola patient,” he added. “We want the people to remain calm and give out as much information as they can.When we got the information, the response was very quick only to realize that the patient was a TB patient.”
He said further: “There was also a time when people were sending messages through texts to tell people that there was Ebola in the country.
It may be the same people who may be doing the same thing to tarnish the image of the country. We want to tell them to remain good citizens and not do anything negative against the country. When you look at the health, economic and social impacts of Ebola, one should not play with it.”
Mr Njai said rumours could wreak havoc on the health system, the economy and social interactions.