Uganda to send Ebola patients back to Congo after boy dies


Ugandan medical staff inspect the Ebola preparedness facilities at the Bwera general hospital near the ...
Ugandan medical staff inspect the Ebola preparedness facilities at the Bwera general hospital near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwera, Uganda, June 12, 2019.

In Summary

  • Uganda announced two more cases of Ebola on Wednesday — a grandmother and a three-year-old boy.
  • The five-year-old boy who died late Tuesday was his brother.
  • Their grandfather also recently died of Ebola.

Uganda plans to repatriate the two patients with Ebola to Congo, saying they can get better treatment in specialized facilities there.

Three more family members, who are so far healthy, will also be repatriated, a health ministry spokesman said.

The family must consent to all repatriations, he said.

“This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping,” said Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, which is involved in fighting Ebola.

“We can expect and should plan for more cases in DRC and neighboring countries,” he said, adding:

“There are now more deaths than any other Ebola outbreak in history, bar the West Africa epidemic of 2013-16, and there can be no doubt that the situation could escalate towards those terrible levels.”

The current Ebola epidemic began in August last year in eastern Congo and has already infected at least 2,062 people, killing 1,390 of them.

The West Africa epidemic infected 28,000 people and killed 11,300, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The viral disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids, causing hemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will reconvene an emergency committee Friday to decide whether the outbreak is an international public health emergency and how to manage it, a WHO statement said.

Authorities have struggled to contain the disease partly because health workers have been repeatedly attacked in conflict-ravaged eastern Congo, the epicenter of the outbreak.

This year, the WHO has documented 174 attacks on health care workers and facilities in Congo, causing 5 deaths and 51 injuries of health care workers and patients, Geneva-based spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters on Wednesday.

There is widespread public mistrust of the Congo government and health workers from outside the region, giving rise to rumors that the disease is a ruse to try to rig elections in the area, where dozens of armed groups operate.

Other rumors accuse health teams of spreading the disease.

Many victims have sought treatment with traditional healers instead.

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