DURBAN PANIC OVER EBOLA BBM MESSAGE
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
A BBM message making rounds in Durban – claiming that Ebola virus has hit the city shores is actually a hoax.
The message had also been circulated through various social networks and states that one person has died at the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Phoenix.
“Urgent please be aware that the Ebola virus has reached Durban. One patient confirmed. Please be alert…Kindly take precautions…Re: A patient has passed away at the Mahatma Ghandi hospital and the area is quarantined. Confirmed by Tabloid Media. Please broadcast.”
This prompted Tabloid Newspapers organisation to issue a statement on their website, distancing themselves from the bogus message.
“Tabloid Newspapers would like to categorically state that no Blackberry Broadcast Message was confirmed by editor or staff, regarding the death of a person … a result of being affected with the Ebola virus,” statement said.
“We request that if you have received this message that you ignore all correspondence and refrain from continuing to resend the message.”
KwaZulu-Natal Health Department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said there is no Ebola in the province and warned against the spreading of such messages as they cause unnecessary panic.
Earlier this week, reports of a ship carrying people infected with Ebola was stranded off Richards Bay, were untrue, Transnet’s National Ports Authority said.
“There is no such thing. When ships arrived outside a port it has always been a legal requirement for all ship captains to report any illness on board to port health authorities.”
It is not only Durban that has been hit by a bogus message. Last week in Abuja, Nigeria, residents woke up to be confronted with a rumour of the arrival of carrier of the Ebola virus.
A BBM message said a passenger who tested positive to the virus flew into the city through Arik Airlines.
Since the outbreak, Ebola has killed over 1 013 people and infected over 1 848.