The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday withdrew a report that said an Ebola patient may have entered Rwanda, suggesting the deadly virus could spread to that country for the first time.
The report, and others written by Uganda’s Health Ministry and published as daily updates by the WHO’s Africa office, detailed the case of a Congolese fishmonger who died of Ebola after going to Uganda and vomiting four times.
Thursday’s report said the woman was suspected of going to the Congolese city of Goma and then into neighbouring Rwanda while suffering from Ebola, which is highly contagious and spreads through bodily fluids.
The report said health workers were struggling to track down people with whom she may have had contact in the market. But many of them refused to cooperate, believing she had died from witchcraft or an abortion.
Following the report, authorities in Rwanda refuted the claims.
“There is no Ebola in Rwanda as far as we are concerned. We have a strong surveillance system in place that helps us to prevent its entry,” Malic Kayumba, Head of Communications at Rwanda Biomedical Centre told The East African newspaper.
‘‘We investigate every day and have a system that informs us of all we need to know, and such news would be coming from us. If there was entry of a suspected Ebola victim we would have known.”
WHO has since withdrawn the reports which were reportedly published without the knowledge of WHO headquarters in Geneva.
“Two situation reports… have erroneously included unverified information,” a statement from WHO said late on Thursday.
The statement did not explain what was unverified in the reports, or mention Rwanda, which is on high alert after a confirmed case of a pastor who later died in the Congolese border city of Goma.