Killer virus patients are taken off the danger list

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

People who came into contact with the Zambian paramedic who died of the Arena virus early this month will be taken off the monitoring list today.

The group was being monitored at Morningside Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg to see if they displayed any symptoms of the virus. They had been under observation for the past 21 days.

The paramedic, Hermanus Els, died on October 2 at the hospital. Els had contracted the rodent-borne virus from Cecilia van Deventer, whom he had accompanied from Zambia.

Melinda Pelser, the hospital spokesman, could not say how many people would be taken off the list of people who had come into contact with Els. However, she confirmed that all the people who would be de-listed were no longer at risk of being infected with the virus.

The hospital was monitoring 94 people who came into contact with the three people who died from the haemorrhagic fever. Another 66 are being observed at Sir Albert Robinson Hospital on the West Rand.

Van Deventer was the first person to die of the Arena virus on September 16. Els died three weeks later. A Morningside Clinic nurse, Gladys Mthembu, who came into contact with Van Deventer, also died on September 5.

"We are happy that none of the people, except for the nursing sister who is on our contact list, have been confirmed to be infected with the virus," said Pelser.

Meanwhile, the nursing sister quarantined at the clinic remains in a critical condition.