23 October 2001

Uganda: Anthrax Scares Kampala

The National task force on bioterrorism is investigating two anthrax scares reported in Kampala yesterday, health ministry officials have said.

Dr. Sam Okware, the commissioner for community health, said samples from two suspicious parcels had been taken for testing and results would be out today.

The first scare was at Mama FM, a women's radio station in Kisaasi, Kampala. The second was at the city's main Post Office. Medical experts wearing protective gear removed both parcels and took them for laboratory testing.

Okware said so far there is no case reported of terrorism-related anthrax in Uganda.

He said another scare at the Kampala Railway Station last week was investigated and found to be a false alarm.

"It was just a letter thanking somebody for a contribution she made to Sanyu Babies' Home," he said.

Workers at Mama FM were thrown into panic when a man delivered a parcel containing cassette tapes dusted with a whitish powder at about 10.35 am yesterday.

The parcel was marked "Urgent. Don't delay." It was delivered by a man named Fred Rutagumula, who said it was from the British Council.

The acting station manager, Agnes Tiisa, said she contacted the British Council but they denied sending the parcel. "I wondered why cassette tapes would have powder on them," she said.

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