A two-year old girl has been identified as the first Ebola case in Mali, making Mali the sixth West African country to join the Ebola epidemic. The child is reported to have spent time with her grandmother in Ebola-plagued Guinea and later returning to Mali. The forty-three people who have had contact with the child, including 10 health workers have been quarantined and are now being monitored for Ebola, says BBC News. On Wednesday, the toddler tested positive for the Ebola virus at a local hospital in Mali. A Health Ministry official told The Daily Mail that the child’s mother had died a week before in Guinea. It was not reported whether the death was as a result of having contracted Ebola.
The atmosphere in Mali following the news of the Ebola case unsurprisingly seems to be one of fear, reports The Guardian.
“Yesterday evening, everywhere I went – in the disco, in three different bars – everybody was talking only about Ebola,” – Malian Journalist
Many are blaming the Ebola case on the country’s lack of initiative to close its borders. Since the West African Ebola epidemic, many governments have come under fire for border control from its citizens, including the United States.
“We were quite sure that one day they would announce this, because if the border is not closed of course Ebola can come into Mali…Senegal and Ivory Coast quickly closed their borders, but Mali is one of the closest to Guinea and we don’t understand why Mali didn’t stop people coming across.” – Malian Tour Guide
According to Voice of America News, Dr. Samba Sow, responsible for Mali’s Ebola efforts defended the government’s position to keep their borders open. He stated that the most important thing at the moment is to reinforce the surveillance system to help trace individuals who have come into contact with Ebola patients.
“We have teams checking on travelers. There’s no point closing the border as people will cross anyway. In fact there is no border.” – Dr. Samba Sow
Just last week a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) completed a trip to Mali where they tested the country’s preparedness level for an Ebola outbreak. The news of this first Ebola case was announced after the WHO stated their confidence that the Ebola virus had not spread out of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone into neighboring states. Though Mali is the sixth West African country to have seen a case of Ebola, two of those countries– Senegal and Nigeria– have since been declared Ebola-free. The two-year old that contracted the Ebola virus is reported to be having a quick recovery.
[Image via Aljazeera]