Focus on Africa, Health Minister says Uganda is prepared against Ebola

Saturday, 15 Jun, 2019

A World Health Organization statement said he entered on Sunday with his family through the Bwera border post. But six managed to leave while awaiting transfer to an Ebola treatment centre.

Meanwhile, authorities from DRC and Uganda and leaders of the Ebola response held an emergency meeting in Kasese district - where the cases were discovered - to plan a response aimed at curtailing any spread of the virus from the three cases.

To contain the spread of the virus, patients and people who have been in contact with them are routinely isolated.

The Congo outbreak is both the second largest and second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. "Eight contacts have been listed and are now being followed up", Charles Olaro, the ministry's director of clinical services, says in a news release about the tragic developments.

The Ministry of Health has issued an alert saying that it is adequately equipped to prevent any influx of Ebola into the country, following one death linked to the disease in Uganda on Tuesday.

Despite surveillance efforts like these at the border of the two countries, Ebola has jumped from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda.

But they left the isolation ward and crossed into Uganda, he added.

More than 300 travellers have been screened since the outbreak was reported, Port Health Services Officer Joshua Arusei told the Nation on Wednesday. Some people wade across the shallow Lubiriha River.

The "stubbornness of Congolese here" is a challenge in screening, a Ugandan Red Cross official, Francis Tumwine, told the AP at one border crossing last week. He later responded to a pair of tweets surrounding Ebola fears in Texas, referring them to his earlier post.

Upon their return to Uganda, the five-year-old boy was vomiting blood and taken to hospital, and lab tests revealed he had contracted the haemorrhagic virus. "This first death, of a child, is a sickening reminder of the dangers of this disease". Uganda has vaccinated almost 4,700 health workers, and WHO is shipping in another 3,500 vaccine doses this week for health workers and close contacts of those infected. The director-general of the World Health Organisation reports that nearly 4,700 health workers have been vaccinated in roughly 165 health facilities around the country.

Experts noted that Uganda, which has been on high alert for possible spread of Ebola and has already vaccinated many frontline healthworkers, is relatively well prepared and should be able to limit the virus' spread. An outbreak in the north in 2000 infected 425 people, killing more than half.

The WHO expert committee has twice decided that the current outbreak, while of "deep concern", is not yet a global health emergency. At its last meeting on April 12, the group said lack of worldwide spread was one of the reasons it held off on recommending a PHEIC declaration. "Unfortunately, we lost the boy who was first tested and was found positive", Aceng said.

There are no confirmed cases in any other parts of the country. "This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping", said Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust, a global health charity.