Reports Isis fighters have contracted Ebola are 'incorrect', says Iraqi health ministry

A spokesman for the Iraqi health ministry denied reports in a local newspaper that militants in Mosul had Ebola

Ben Tufft
Friday 02 January 2015 13:44
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In this file photo taken Monday, June 23, 2014, militants from the Islamic State parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle on a main street in Mosul, Iraq
In this file photo taken Monday, June 23, 2014, militants from the Islamic State parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle on a main street in Mosul, Iraq

Reports that Isis fighters in Iraq have contracted Ebola have been refuted as “incorrect” and “unfounded” by the country’s health ministry.

Despite reports on Wednesday in the Iraqi paper, al-Sabah, that two cases of Ebola had been reported in Mosul in the north of the country, Ahmed Rudaini, the health ministry’s spokesman dismissed the speculation.

He said the disease could not have been registered, as only the Central Laboratory of Public Health in Baghdad has the “diagnostic capabilities” to confirm cases of Ebola which was reported by the al-Maalomah news website and the International Business Times.

The World Health Organisation also confirmed that they had received no confirmation of Ebola cases from Iraq.

Tarik Jasarevic from the organisation told The Independent: "WHO is aware of these reports and is working closely with Iraqi MoH to get more information.

"It is unlikely that this case can be a confirmed Ebola case as there is no laboratory facility in Mosul that could do an Ebola test."

WHO’s director of communications, Christy Feig had earlier told Mashable: “We have no official notification from [the Iraqi government] that it is Ebola.”

The organisation has reached out to the Iraqi government to investigate the claims, should it require assistance, however.

Al-Sabah initially reported that “terrorists” from several unnamed African countries had brought the virus to the country and claimed that two cases of Ebola and 26 cases of HIV/AIDS had been registered by authorities.

Although Isis has recruited foreign fighters in the past, it believed that the majority came from Tunisia, according to a Washington Post report. Very few, if any, militants are thought to have travelled from at-risk areas of West Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The northern city of Mosul fell to Isis six months ago and residents have suffered brutal repression. People are restricted from leaving the city without first nominating a guarantor, water and food supplies are limited and hospitals have been closed due to a lack of electricity.

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