By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Health yesterday stressed that a “suspected case of Ebola” at the Princess Margaret Hospital is “unlikely” but added that “conclusive testing” is being done for a number infectious diseases, including the deadly virus through the US Centers for Disease Control following the death of a patient on Sunday evening.
The patient had travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa in early March.
“According to the World Health Organization, South Africa to date has had no reported cases of Ebola,” the ministry said.
“The Ministry of Health can confirm that all standard protocols, including necessary protective measures in keeping with international guidelines have been followed in the management of the patient at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
“The Ministry of Health will continue to work closely with PAHO and other international partners to ensure that effective measures are followed to safeguard the health of the public in accordance with international best practice.”
According to a statement from PMH on Saturday, the 51-year-old woman patient had travelled to Johannesburg two weeks ago and returned to the Bahamas on March 15.
The patient has not been officially identified, but The Tribune understands she is Patty Miller, an employee at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
Concerns were raised over the Easter holiday weekend after rumours began to spread on social media that a patient who had recently returned to the Bahamas from Africa was suspected of having the Ebola virus.
In its statement on Saturday, PMH said its “senior health officials” had confirmed that the patient had not presented symptoms “in a manner which indicates Ebola to be the likely diagnosis.” That statement also said that there is no confirmed case of the Ebola virus in PMH at the time.
However, the statement said an “intensive investigation” is underway to determine the patient’s cause of illness. The hospital also said that the patient was being nursed in “isolation” and that it would provide updates as test results were received.
PMH’s statement also said that as with “any potential infectious disease case” it was taking the “necessary precautions and abiding by the highest protocols requisite for such cases within international guidelines.”
The Ministry of Health also stressed that “all standard procedures including necessary protective measures in keeping with international guidelines have been followed in the management of the patient at the Princess Margaret Hospital.”
The statement added that the Ministry of Health and its agencies, including the Public Hospitals Authority, Department of Public Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) met on Monday and maintain “that a suspected case of Ebola at the Princess Margaret Hospital is unlikely.”
“…The Ministry of Health will continue to work closely with PAHO and other international partners to ensure that effective measures are followed to safeguard the health of the public in accordance with international best practice,” the ministry added.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. It is not airborne.
At its outset, symptoms of the virus are similar to those of the flu, featuring fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat and pain in the joints and muscles. As the virus progresses, symptoms begin to include gastrointestinal illness like abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.
Local health officials have maintained that they have protocols in place in case of an Ebola diagnosis in this country.