13 June 2019

Uganda: DRC Ebola Virus Outbreak - Epidemic Spreads to Uganda

The five-year-old and the mother just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo where the father died of the same disease

Almost 10 months after the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC declared its biggest ever and 10th Ebola virus outbreak in 40 years on August 1, 2018, the epidemic has now spread to neighbouring Uganda. Ugandan health authorities on June 12, 2019 announced the death of a five-year-old boy the day before from the disease, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC reported. Quoting Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng, the World Health Organisation, WHO, said there were now three confirmed Ebola cases in the country.

A joint statement by the two sides said a rapid response team had been dispatched to identify other people at risk and follow up eight possible cases. Reports say the late boy's younger brother and grandmother also have the same disease. The Ugandan family, who live in Kasese District, entered the country through the Bwera border post on June 9, 2019 after losing the father to the deadly disease in DRC.

DRC health authorities said before returning home, the child had already started showing strong signs of Ebola infection. They then alerted their Ugandan counterparts who tracked down the family and isolated the boy before his death. As news of the first Ugandan victim of the current Ebola epidemic spread, stakeholders on June 12, 2019 mounted pressure on the World Health Organisation to declare an international emergency.

The organisation has on two previous occasions resisted doing so partly because the virus had not crossed international borders. Meanw hile, Uganda has already vaccinated about 4,700 health workers against the disease, the BBC said. More than 2,000 Ebola cases have been recorded in DRC since August 2018, with nearly 1,400 deaths in the country's second biggest outbreak in history. Only once before has an outbreak continued to grow more than eight months after it began. This was the epidemic in West Africa from 20132016, which killed 11,310 people.

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