By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
January 15, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Ethiopian patient suspected to have been suffering from Ebola died in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday.
- Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients in an isolation area at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone on 20 July 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Tommy Trenchard)
The patient, who recently returned from Sierra Leone, one of the worst-hit West African countries, was quarantined following his arrival at Addis Ababa Airport two weeks ago after showing Ebola-like symptoms.
However, Ethiopian health minister Dr Keseteberhan Admassu on Thursday has dismissed speculation the patient had died of Ebola, saying tests had confirmed he was not infected with the virus.
“Our medical teams’ diagnostic tests have confirmed that the man was suffering of malaria. His condition, however, didn’t improve and subsequently [he] died of the disease,” Admassu told journalists.
The minister said blood and urine samples of the deceased had been sent to the United States disease control centre for further confirmation.
The results of those tests are expected within the next 48 hours.
Although not in isolation, family members who had been in direct contact with the patient are currently under close observation by medical personnel in their home.
The minister further noted that the incident shouldn’t terrify the public but should be considered as part of the ongoing awareness creating efforts in the battle against the deadly epidemic.
The deceased had been working as a health worker for a humanitarian organisation in Sierra Leone.
However, Ethiopian officials have confirmed he was not part of a contingent deployed by the Horn of Africa nation to bolster the response to the epidemic.
In December, Ethiopia sent some 200 volunteer health personnel as part of a continent-wide mission aimed at containing the spread of the deadly virus that has killed more than 8,400 people mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Since the outbreak was first reported in March, hundreds of health workers have also been infected, with West Africa’s h