DAR ES SALAAM, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian health authorities on Saturday refuted rumors of an Ebola outbreak in the east African country saying people should not be scared by the rumors.
"We don't have Ebola patients in Tanzania," Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister for Health, told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
For the past one week, rumors circulating on social media indicated that two people had died from the deadly Ebola in Tanzania that has killed more than 2,000 in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
"There were two patients who died last week from what doctors described as a strange disease but results from tests conducted by the Ministry of Health of their samples showed negative. They were not killed by the Ebola disease," said Mwalimu.
Mwalimu, who was flanked by Deputy Minister for Health Faustine Ndugulile and the Chief Medical Officer, Mohamed Kambi, said the Ministry of Health was working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders in taking precautionary measures against the outbreak of the disease.
She said it was only the Ministry of Health that was entitled to announce the outbreak of epidemics such as Ebola, adding that announcing the outbreak of diseases in other outlets, including social media, amounted to cybercrime.
The minister said the government has put in place response and preparedness strategies aimed at controlling the Ebola disease from getting into the country.
In June this year, Tanzanian Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu warned that Tanzania was at high risk of an outbreak of Ebola after the virus killed at least two people in neighboring Uganda.
"Tanzania is at high risk of the Ebola virus outbreak and we are doing all we can to respond to the outbreak," said Mwalimu in an interview with Xinhua.
The current outbreak in the DRC is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.