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Kenya on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Health workers have been vaccinating people against Ebola to prevent the spread of the virus. Image:/AGENCIES


In Summary

• Death of 5-year-old boy first cross-border Ebola death in latest outbreak that started in the eastern DRC. Two relatives hospitalised.

• BBC says Uganda reporting seven other cases. 50 people may have come into contact with them.

Health officials in Busia and Malaba border towns are on high alert following an Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Uganda.

A five-year-old Ugandan boy has died and his three-year-old brother and 51-year-old other are also infected with the virus, WHO said.

They are now being treated in isolation at the Kasese district’s Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit.

They are the first Ebola cases in Uganda since the deadly outbreak in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo 10 months ago. They had come from the DRC.

Minister for Health Dr Jane Aceng said in a statement that the boy from DRC had travelled with his mother on June 10 where she went to nurse her Congolese husband who succumbed to Ebola.

The BBC says Ugandan health officials report that seven people have contracted the disease.

The Ugandan government has suspended mass gatherings including market days and prayers.

Market days in the town of Kasese attract an estimated 20,000 people at the border area.

Airport arrivals are screened for high temperatures.
At the Busia Kenya Port Health Desk, all arriving travellers including truck drivers undergo Ebola screening.

Chief officer for Health and Sanitation Dr Isaac Omeri said a surveillance team is assessing the border situation and will make recommendations for handling emergencies.

“We are aware of the diagnosed Ebola case in neighbouring Uganda. Normally under such circumstances, we have what is called public health anxiety,” Omeri said.

“As a country, we have to take measures to ensure all people crossing into the country are screened. Already we have our border post which is very active and we also have our officers. ”

Dr Omeri said there is an isolation ward at the Busia County Referral Hospital and at Malaba Dispensary where any suspected Ebola cases are quarantined, awaiting medication.

Public Health Officer Joshua Arusei said the county has put emergency measures in place to ensure there is no Ebola outbreak in Kenya.

Arusei said 300 travellers arriving into the country since the reported case have been screened, adding that the screening will continue until Uganda is declared Ebola-free.

He said an ambulance is on standby at BCRH.
He said health officials are partnering with police “to sensitise the public to use designated border points to avoid people with suspected Ebola virus entering the country through the porous border.”

More than 2,000 cases have been recorded since the start of the outbreak in the eastern DRC 10 months ago, at least 1,400 people have died. Some say the death toll is probably higher.

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