Dar es Salaam. Minister of Health Ummy Mwalimu announced Friday that Tanzania is free from the Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) after completing 42 days of monitoring per the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
In a Twitter statement, Mwalimu, who doubles as Tanga Ubarn MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM), reported that May 31, 2023, marked the end of the monitoring period since the last patient recovered.
“I’m officially announcing that the Marburg Virus Disease in the Kagera region is officially over,” Mwalimu said. “We have managed to end the disease with great success. Today is a happy day; it’s a day to celebrate.”
On May 1, 2023, the government announced that it would officially announce the end of MVD in Tanzania if no new case is reported by May 31, 2023. The last patient to recover from the disease was discovered on April 29, 2023, Mwalimu said o Friday.
On March 21, 2023, Tanzania officially declared the first MVD outbreak in the country. It was the second country to report the disease after Equatorial Guinea, which continues to battle with the disease.
Between March 21 and May 31, nine cases were reported in Tanzania, including eight laboratory-confirmed cases and one probable.
The last confirmed case was reported on April 11, 2023, and the date of sample collection of the second negative PCR test was on April 19, 2023. All cases were reported from the Bukoba district, Kagera region.
Among the confirmed cases, three have recovered, and six deaths have been reported, of which five were confirmed, and one was probable.
Cases ranged from 1 to 59 years old, with males most affected. Six cases were close relatives, and two were healthcare workers who provided medical care to the patients.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom described the development as “good news” in a statement posted on Twitter.
“My appreciation goes to health [and] care workers, the government of Tanzania, WHO colleagues, and all partners for their efforts to end the outbreak in just over two months,” Dr Adhanom said.
“The key lesson is that we need to continue investing in epidemic preparedness,” he added.
WHO confirmed an outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease in the central African country of Equatorial Guinea on February 13, 2023. In the past, the disease was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
According to WHO, the Marburg virus spreads between people via direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with infected people’s blood, secretions, organs, or other body fluids and surfaces and materials such as bedding and clothing contaminated with these fluids.
Its control relies on contact tracing, sample testing, patient contact monitoring, quarantines and attempts to limit or modify high-risk activities such as traditional funeral practices.
WHO encourages countries to maintain most response activities for three months after the outbreak is declared over.
This is to ensure that if the disease re-emerges, health authorities can detect it immediately, prevent the disease from spreading again, and ultimately save lives, the UN agency advises.