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Ebola: Local media chase clicks instead of facts

November 2014

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There are still no cases of Ebola in South Africa, or sub-Saharan Africa.

Last week a number of South African publications seemed unable to confirm that a man in KwaZulu Natal was not admitted or even tested for Ebola. It didn’t stop them reporting on Thursday morning.

When Tourism Update read the reports, we made two short phone calls to the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD) and the hospital in question to suggest the reports were inaccurate. The NICD said that while the man had been to Sierra Leone as reported, his symptoms did not match Ebola symptoms, he was not a risk for the virus and had not been admitted to the hospital. The hospital said he had not been admitted.

The NICD quickly issued a statement to this effect. However, the media reports continued.

Intrigued, Tourism Update again contacted the NICD on Thursday afternoon. NICD Public Health, Surveillance, and Response head, Lucille Blumberg, said she was surprised to read about the Ebola panic in the paper that morning and NICD issued the statement.

However, Blumberg said NICD had decided to test the patient, even though he was not suspected of having the virus, in order to allay fears. On Friday morning NICD confirmed that the man did not have Ebola.

In an effort to stop misinformation, Tourism Update is providing accurate and up-to-date information in the form of an interactive map, which is updated daily. The map can be accessed here.

Tessa Reed and Caro Malherbe

Article Source : Tourism Update
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