NAIROBI – The World Health Organization has accused Tanzanian authorities of withholding information this month about multiple suspected Ebola cases in the country, potentially hampering the deadly virus.
The statement by the UN agency on Saturday was the sharpest rebuke to any government so far during the current outbreak, devastating the nearby Eastern Congo for more than a year, killing more than 2,000 people.
The WHO was aware of suspected cases in Tanzania shortly after it appeared in Dar es Salaam, the massive capital of the East African country, this month. The international organization was then excluded from a blood test and told the government that Ebola was excluded, he said.
The authorities of Tanzania do not offer alternative diagnoses.
"Limited official information available from Tanzania is a challenge," the WHO said. "Clinical data, research findings, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed have not been reported to the WHO."
WHO statement refers to a 34-year-old doctor studying in central Uganda who returned to his native Tanzania with symptoms similar to Ebola and died on September 8 in Dar es Salaam. Her illness was clearly contagious, as numerous contacts also became ill.
The WHO stated that it had received "unofficial reports" that the woman tested positive for Ebola, but one of her contacts in another city did not. The WHO said it had not received information about a third possible case, also in the capital.
The Ebola outbreak, which began in August 2018, is the second worst in the world, but remains largely confined to two provinces in eastern Congo. In recent months, there have been regular days where dozens of new cases have been reported.
A small number of Congolese seeking treatment in neighboring Uganda have been confirmed to have the virus in that country. But otherwise, the epidemic has not left the Congo.
However, Ebola is a virus that can travel well before its symptoms – which include extreme fever, vomiting. blood and bloody diarrhea – they become apparent. WHO is pursuing potential cases in an epidemic that has traveled all the way to Dubai and China. The contacts of all suspected cases should be quarantined to prevent the virus from spreading.
Tanzania has never reported a case of Ebola. Tourism is a significant part of the country's economy, and Ebola's presence there can lead to widespread travel cancellations.
USA. Health and Human Services Minister Alex Azar visited the Congo last week to study the response to Ebola. Before WHO issued its statement, Azar urged Tanzania to fulfill its international transparency obligations.
"We call on the Government of Tanzania to fulfill its obligation under the International Health Regulations without delay, through transparent disclosure of information and full cooperation with the international health community, to allow independent verification of the circumstances of the death of that individual," Azar told reporters on briefing time.