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Health Officials Defend “Miscommunication” On Ebola Scare

Medical tests from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States have confirmed that the Ukrainian man who died in The Bahamas last week did not die of Ebola, as widely speculated, but Malaria.

At a press conference held yesterday morning at the Ministry of Health local health officials made the announcement and also defended their decision to withhold information on the health scare that went viral, until they had a proper diagnosis.

Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez said when that two minute and 22 second audio clip of a woman purporting to be a nurse detailing the patient’s arrival and condition and alleging it to be Ebola; he was not made aware of it until later that evening which is why his response came in the House of Assembly late Wednesday.

“Doctors don’t go to the press about what’s wrong with a patient, you need that patient’s consent, that’s ethics number one,” he said. “In also talking about a specific patient, you need to be sure of your diagnosis so when the press said we had a case of Ebola, it should’ve been said that we had a suspected case of Ebola, because you cannot make the diagnosis in a day.

“It takes special and sophisticated testing to confirm that diagnosis.”

During the evening hours on Sunday September 14 local US Embassy officials responded to a call to rescue a “very ill person” on a freighter passing through Bahamian waters.

The patient was a 34-year-old white male from the Ukraine working on the freighter which was enroute to New Orleans from the Congo, West Africa.

The patient was later transported to Nassau and taken to Doctors Hospital’s emergency room where he was quarantined and cared for but he died Wednesday evening.

When word got out that foreigner was being quarantined at a local hospital for a potentially deadly infectious disease for three days and no official announcement was made, Bahamians took to social media demanding answers from the government.

Administrator at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) Mary Walker said despite the elapsed time, health officials were still not in a position to make a statement because they still had not confirmed the illness.

“It is a very stringent protocol and the persons who can speak within the ministry, there is a protocol and we will always follow that protocol,” she added. “However, social media being what it is we cannot always control that. But when we do speak we will speak with the authority of knowledge.”
Despite the scare, Acting Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr. Delon Brennen said since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa several months ago, local health officials have convened a group of stakeholders to ensure that Bahamians on the frontlines of protecting the boarders are able to identify symptoms of infectious diseases and act accordingly.

Dr. Gomez added that despite the risks, whenever a patient has to be brought to the country for medical care they do not turn them down.

“We accept them all, because you have to take care of a sick patient, wherever they come from,” he added. “The patient was in Bahamian waters and he was critically ill so they brought him to the closest place. No mischief.”

Chief Executive Officer at Doctors Hospital Charles Sealy said as it stands now no investigation has been launched into whose voice it is on the voice note, but if it is found that policies were broken then the proper actions would be taken.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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