Senegal traces lone Ebola patient’s route
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – The effort to contain Ebola in Senegal is “a top priority emergency”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today, as the government continued tracing everyone who came in contact with a Guinean student who has tested positive for the deadly disease in the capital, Dakar.
Senegal faces an “urgent need” for support and supplies including hygiene kits and personal protective equipment for health workers, the WHO said in a statement today.
“These needs will be met with the fastest possible speed,” the WHO said.
The U.N. health agency provided new information on the movements of the 21-year-old student in the city before he was diagnosed with Ebola.
Senegal confirmed that the student had tested positive for Ebola on Friday, making the country the fifth in West Africa to be affected by an outbreak that has killed more than 1 500 people.
The student showed up at a hospital in Dakar on August 26 but did not reveal that he had been in contact with other Ebola victims, said Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck.
The next day, an epidemiological surveillance team in neighbouring Guinea alerted Senegalese authorities that it had lost track of a person it was monitoring three weeks earlier, and that the person may have crossed into Senegal.
The student was tracked to the hospital in Dakar that same day and was immediately quarantined, and a test confirmed he had Ebola, Seck said.
In today’s statement, the WHO said the student arrived in Dakar by road on August 20 and was staying with relatives “in the outskirts of the city”.
It said that on August 23, he went to a medical facility seeking treatment for fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, all symptoms of Ebola.
He was treated for malaria, however, and continued to stay with his relatives before turning up at the Dakar hospital on August 26.
“Though the investigation is in its early stages, he is not presently known to have travelled elsewhere,” said the WHO, which received its information from Senegal’s health ministry.
The presence of Ebola in Senegal, a tourist and transport hub, could complicate efforts to bring the outbreak under control. The country has already closed its land border with Guinea, where the outbreak originated, and barred air and sea travel from Sierra Leone and Liberia in an attempt to keep the disease out.