Test clears suspected Ebola case

A 24-year-old Guinean woman, Thailand's first suspected Ebola case, has tested negative for the disease, the Health Ministry's permanent secretary said yesterday.

Health secretary-general Narong Sahametapat said the Department of Medical Sciences and Chulalongkorn Hospital will conduct a second blood test tomorrow to confirm the result.

The woman, whose name has not been released in accordance with privacy rules, is now being treated at the state-owned hospital, and her temperature has returned to normal, Dr Narong said.

The woman entered Thailand from Guinea, one of four countries at the epicentre of the outbreak, on Aug 20. Nine days later, she went to a hospital with a fever of 38.8C, sore throat and running nose, said Sopon Mekthon, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

The DDC deployed a "rapid-response team" to investigate whether the woman had come into close contact with others and identified 16 people, including Thais and foreigners. They were placed under a surveillance programme for monitoring.

So far, their condition is normal, Dr Sopon said. But the DDC planned to monitor them for 21 days.

If the second blood test returns a negative result, it means she does not have Ebola, and a team of experts at the Public Health Ministry will determine whether to cease the Ebola surveillance programme.

The Health Ministry urged the public to stay calm, saying transmission of the virus requires close contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. Nonetheless, the ministry asked people to continue monitoring the situation and check information distributed by the ministry.

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Writer: Paritta Wangkiat
Position: Reporter