Uganda: Government Warns of Ebola On Uganda-DR Congo Border

Photo: Huster/MSF
A team that has just finished setting up a tent in the high-risk zone in the Ebola treatment centre, getting out of their personal protective equipment (PPE). It’s hard work, and harder still in such attire. Photographer: Karin (file photo).
18 November 2018

Kampala — The Ministry of Health has asked people in districts neighbouring DR Congo to be alert and watch out for signs of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever, with some cases already registered only a few kilometres to the Uganda border.

Dr Henry Mwebesa, the ministry's director of General health services, said 344 Ebola cases have been reported in DR Congo, with 202 deaths registered.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd Grand Uganda Medical Association Conference in Kampala on Friday.

"The closest who have died near our [Uganda] side is on the shores of Lake Albert in Ntoroko District [which neighbours DR Congo]. We have also had cases [of Ebola victims] who have died near our side, about 50km from our border. Another case was 50 kilometres closer to Kanungu District," Dr Mwebesa said.

He also warned that Kampala and Wakiso districts are high risk areas because of the flights that come in.

Dr Mwebesa said the Health ministry has started screening at Entebbe International Airport for all flights that come in from DR Congo and South Sudan.

"Of recent, we are screening all other people that come in because of the better facilities. In the past, we had thermo-screening but now we have cameras that screen even 100 people coming in at once. It will pick someone who has a high temperature," Dr Mwebesa said.

The Health ministry has since categorised five districts: Ntoroko, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kanungu and Hoima that neighbour DRC, as very high risk.

Previous alerts

Since the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo early this year, the Health ministry has been receiving various alerts on symptoms similar to those of the haemorrhagic fever, but of the 300 suspected cases tested, none has turned out positive.

The latest Ebola scare was reported on Thursday in the western district of Hoima, which also shares a border with DR Congo.

Tension had gripped the residents after a 31-year-old boda boda taxi cyclist died after exhibiting symptoms similar to those of Ebola.

Simon Chadia died after intense vomiting of blood and reportedly had red eyes, was passing watery stool and had high fever, according to health workers.

The Ebola vaccination exercise which started this month for health and other frontline workers in five most-at-risk districts is ongoing and more than 200 people have already received the vaccine in Kasese and Ntoroko districts, both on the DR Congo border.

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