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Kenyan quarantined in Russia over Ebola

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Beatrice MutaveA healthy Kenyan student was quarantined at a Russian hospital for 11 days on suspicion she was infected with the Ebola virus. After 11 days in isolation, she was cleared and is now back in class.

Beatrice Mutave, a 21-year-old medical student from Nairobi, was said to have had a high temperature of 37.2 degrees during a random test conducted on African students at Volgograd Medical University, around 900 kilometres south of Moscow.

All the 50 African students in the college had temperature of 36 degrees considered normal by Russian doctors, however, around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered normal worldwide.

Still, Mutave’s 37.2 degrees raised an alarm and on August 27 she was moved  to a hospital 200 kilometres from the college and kept in isolation. She was locked in a room with a toilet and tap water.

Her fellow students had to hire a taxi for the two-hour trip to visit and console the second-year medical student, but they were only allowed to talk to her through a window.

Mutave’s mother, Teresia Karimi, told the Star by telephone yesterday about her daughter’s ordeal, which ended with her release on Saturday.

Karimi said that for 11 “agonising” days she pleaded with Kenya’s ambassador to Russia to intervene, but she was told that that hospital authorities were adamant that the young woman could not be released.

She kept in touch with her daughter via SMS and WhatsApp.

She described her anxiety when she realised that Russia was so distant and she was unable to be with her daughter.

Mutave ate nothing for two of the 11 days, since nurses at the institution did not want to approach her.

The medical student went to Russia in 2012 and has not returned to Africa for a holiday, leading her mother to question how she could have been detained for observation.

Mutave joined the Sh300,000-a-year medical college after writing her KCSE at Ngara Girls.

When contacted yesterday, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were in a meeting but a source said that Ambassador to Russia Paul Kurgat had prepared a dossier on the student’s ordeal.

Her mother told the Star she was happy that Beatrice was fine and back to class. The mother is a businesswoman in Nairobi and resides in Kilimani

Mutave was declared free of the Ebola virus that has claimed more than 2,000 lives in West Africa, with the worst-hit countries being Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

But speaking to the Star, Dr Abdi Mohamed of Kenyatta National Hospital said a temperature of 37.2 was normal for a 21-year-old. He said that unless the student exhibited other worrisome symptoms at the time, the temperature should have not caused alarm.

Health officials have ruled out alleged cases of Ebola in Kenya.

Clearance came after two suspected cases tested negative. A journalist returning from assignment was isolated on Wednesday last week after he returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He arrived on Kenya Airways Flight 550 from Lubumbashi and caused a panic when he landed at JKIA. The flight crew alerted health ministry officials about the male passenger who had vomited while the aircraft was in flight.

Another patient, a 10-year-old Liberian student,was admitted at a hospital in Nakuru with a fever and other symptoms. The boy and nurse who first attended to him were immediately quarantined but later released after tests were negative.

– the-star.co.ke

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