22 November 2012

Tanzania: Kagera On High Ebola Alert

KAGERA Region is on high Ebola alert following reports that neighbouring Uganda risked a major resurgence of the disease after 43 cases were discovered this year.

The Regional Health Officer (RHO), Dr Herman Kabirigi, told the 'Daily News' here that a team of experts had been dispatched to all entry points to monitor movement of people. The entry points include Rusumo and Kabanga, in Ngara District; Kaisho and Murongo, in Karagwe District, and Kyaka and Mutukula, in Misenyi District.

He said that health officials were making 24-hour surveillance at all entry points to check the disease. The warning came after Uganda announced that the Ebola virus had claimed another life on Sunday, bringing the death toll in the latest outbreak of the infectious disease in the country to five. Ebola killed 16 people in August, this year, including four clinical officers who were attending sick patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) later confirmed that the Ebola disease which was reported in neighbouring Uganda was now under control. Reports from Uganda's capital, Kampala revealed that police have halted visitation of inmates in all prisons across the city and neighbouring districts.

The move is aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever among inmates and other people. Addressing the media at a weekly police briefing, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Ibin Ssenkumbi, yesterday said the visitors will only be given access to the suspects if the reason is serious enough.

"We hereby call upon friends, relatives and sympathisers of suspects to refrain from visiting them in the meantime because they will not be allowed to meet them (suspects)," he reiterated. Ssenkumbi, however, noted that the move is temporary, saying once the Ministry of Health declares the country Ebola-free, the suspects will receive visitors as usual.

The WHO describes Ebola as "a viral haemorrhagic fever and one of the most virulent diseases known to humankind". It says the disease was discovered in 1976 in a western equatorial province of Sudan and a nearby region of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). It takes its name from a river in the DRC.

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