Uganda Scrambles to Respond to Fresh Ebola Scare in Kasese

A mother holds her child in the zone where people suspected of being infected by Ebola are held in quarantine at the Ebola Transition Center in Beni, North Kivu, January 18, 2019.

Ugandan authorities scrambled to respond to a fresh Ebola threat after a Congolese trader died of the disease four days after she had been to Mpondwe market in Kasese district, western Uganda.

Ugandan health officials and the World Health Organisation insist that they have everything under control, as contacts with the woman have been identified and will be vaccinated for Ebola to prevent progression of the disease.

A statement from the Ministry of Health shows that the woman, a well-known trader, showed symptoms consistent with Ebola and vomited four times while at Mpondwe market, on July 11 2019, where she had gone to buy fish.

The ministry adds that a day after the woman visited the market in western Uganda, she travelled back to Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo where she was admitted at an Ebola treatment unit. While at the Beni treatment unit, she tested positive for Ebola and died days later.

Benjamin Sensasi, a communication officer with the World Health Organisation, says that although between 3,000 and 5,000 people on average visit the market in Mpondwe, the woman was in contact with only people at the fish market.

He says surveillance teams identified 19 people who had had contact with her. The 19 are being vaccinated and monitored to ensure that in case they develop symptoms of Ebola, they can be isolated and treated.

At least three relatives died of Ebola in early June in western Uganda, near the DR Congo border, putting border authorities on high alert. The three and other relatives had returned to Uganda from DR Congo where they had attended a relative's burial.

The epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed more than 1,600 people in a period of about 11 months.

The WHO on Wednesday declared the Ebola outbreak in the DRC a "public health emergency of international concern," a rare designation only used for the gravest epidemics.

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