The Rwandan government has dismissed a report by the World Health Organization that the Ebola outbreak has reached the country through the border town of Gisenyi.
Malic Kayumba, head of communications at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, told local journalists that Rwanda remains Ebola-free, and that the government remains committed to keeping it that way.
"There is no Ebola in Rwanda as far as we are concerned. We have a strong surveillance system in place that helps us to prevent its entry," Kayumba said.
"We investigate every day and have a system that informs us of all we need to know, and such news would be coming from us. If there was entry of a suspected Ebola victim we would have known."
Possible Ebola Case In Uganda
Earlier this week, the WHO announced that the Ebola virus may have already reached areas beyond the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The international health agency said a female Congolese fishmonger crossed the DRC border on July 11 to sell fish at a market in the Ugandan town of Mpondwe. While the woman was in Uganda, she reportedly had several vomiting incidents before returning to Congo. The fishmonger later died, according to the WHO.
However, the WHO later withdrew the announcement, claiming that it was released without the knowledge of the organization's HQ in Geneva, Switzerland. The report was said to have been prepared by the Ugandan Health Ministry and published as part of WHO Africa's daily updates.
In a statement, the WHO said the situation reports had "erroneously included unverified information". The documents have since been removed from the organization's website.
The health agency's statement did not mention what exactly was unverified in the unauthorized reports. It also did not discuss Rwanda, which is now on high alert after a Congolese man died due to Ebola in the border town of Goma.
Goma is home to more than 1 million people and serves as a regional and international gateway between the DRC and Rwanda.
Rwandan health officials said they have intensified the screening of travelers at ports of entry to prevent the Ebola virus from crossing the border. They have also asked residents to forgo any travel plans to any of the areas currently affected by the ongoing outbreak.
The latest Ebola death demonstrates the "powder-keg nature" nature of the outbreak, according to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The recent spread of the disease is now the second-worst incident on record, with casualties already reaching nearly 1,700 deaths since it began last August.
Global Health Emergency
On Wednesday, the WHO declared that the Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international public health emergency, after reevaluating the situation on the ground. The health agency hopes that designating the crisis as a global emergency will help galvanize international support for containment efforts.
However, the WHO does not recommend any restrictions or border closures to be made to avoid causing negative impacts on the economy of the region. Preventing trade or travel in Congo could severely limit the ability of emergency responders and care providers to address the Ebola outbreak.