No need to panic over Gauteng virus, says Cabinet

There is no cause for panic over an outbreak of suspected haemorrhagic fever in Gauteng that has claimed three lives, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday.

Briefing the media after the Cabinet’s regular meeting on Wednesday, Maseko said the executive was satisfied that health authorities and professionals had responded quickly, appropriately and with the highest levels of professionalism to contain the suspected virus.

“The meeting was satisfied that the Department of Health, together with health professionals and experts from both the public and private sectors, was doing all that is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure that there is no further loss of life,” he said.

The national outbreak response team is working around the clock to support provincial response teams with guidelines, active field surveillance and tracing contacts, he said.

A rapid response team has been established, consisting of public and private health sector representatives, to coordinate efforts to deal with the situation promptly. This team meets every day to coordinate responses and constantly monitors the situation in all hospitals and clinics.

The government is also working with the World Health Organisation and the United States Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to access their global expertise in dealing with outbreak responses.

The CDC has undertaken to expedite the processing of samples to ensure test results are made available as quickly as possible, he said.

An emergency hotline (Tel: 011 564 2083) has been established to deal with enquiries.

Healthcare workers are being trained to deal with patients showing symptoms of viral haemorrhagic fevers, and port health services are being strengthened to deal with any situation, as are members of the border control operational coordinating committee.

“Government’s message to the public is: do not panic, we are dealing with the situation. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and we are confident that the test results will shed more light on this virus so that appropriate measures could be put in place as soon as possible,” Maseko said.—Sapa

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