Kenya on high alert as second person dies of Ebola in Uganda

Thursday June 13 2019

ebola

Health workers at an Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, DR Congo on March 9, 2019. Kenya has issued an alert and intensified screening at its borders following reports of an Ebola outbreak in Uganda where two people have died. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAILY MONITOR
By DAILY MONITOR
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DAILY NATION
By DAILY NATION
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A second person has died of Ebola in Uganda as neighbouring Kenya intensifies screening at its border.

The grandmother of a five-year-old boy who died of Ebola passed on at Bwera General Hospital in Kasese District, western Uganda, on Wednesday evening. The boy died on Tuesday night at the same hospital where an isolation facility was established for Ebola patients to be treated.

“She will be buried tomorrow [Thursday] by our team after identifying a place," a source in the Ministry of Health team which travelled to Kasese told Daily Monitor on Wednesday.

The Ebola outbreak which has ravaged the neighbouring DRC for the last one year was Tuesday confirmed in Uganda in the western border district of Kasese.

The first case to be confirmed on Tuesday was that of a five-year-old boy, who tested positive and later died. His three-year-old brother and grandmother also tested positive and were admitted at the isolation facility that was established at Bwera General Hospital.

Dr Aceng said seven more people who came from the DR Congo, including the boy’s parents and younger sibling, are suspected to be infected with the virus and are at the isolation facility.

HIGH ALERT

Meanwhile, Kenyan health officers at the Busia One Stop Border Post on the Kenya-Uganda border are on high alert.

Screening for the killer Ebola virus was intensified on Wednesday.

More than 300 travellers have been screened since the outbreak was reported, Port Health Services Officer Joshua Arusei told the Nation on Wednesday.

He said officers were examining all travellers from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

“We are also checking travel records using passports before allowing the travellers into the country,” Mr Arusei said, adding that the department was ready to respond to any case.

“We are ready to attend to emergencies at Busia County Referral Hospital just metres away. All suspected cases, especially for those found with temperatures above 38 degrees, must be quarantined,” he said.

Mr Arusei urged the public to use designated routes so that officials can examine them and prevent infections and an outbreak.

A spot check by the Nation revealed that some Ugandans and Kenyans were moving freely between the borders without being screened, posing a threat.

OFFICIAL ALERT

The Kenyan Health ministry issued a statement, saying it had issued an alert to all health workers and the public for enhancement of surveillance measures.

"The ministry continues to monitor the evolution of the prolonged Ebola outbreak in the DRC which began in August 2018, with a view to strengthening the country's preparedness and response capacity," the statement said.

Besides issuing the alert and heightening screening, the ministry and other actors have:

  • Developed an Ebola Contingency Plan to guide implementation of prevention and response activities.

  • Set up a multiagency preparedness and response committee to coordinate preparedness and response measures.

  • Established Ebola Rapid Response Teams, which are made up of medical specialists in disease control and laboratory scientists trained in investigation and testing. The ministry noted that Kenya has Ebola experts who responded to the 2014-16 outbreaks in West Africa.

  • Made arrangements for the isolation of suspected cases, using the Ebola Treatment Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital and temporary holding rooms at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. People suspected to have the virus will be kept in the holding rooms and examined for possible transfer to isolation facilities.

  • Prepositioned personal protective equipment and other supplies at all points of entry into Kenya. These include hand hygiene supplies, examination equipment and pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies.

SYMPTOMS

People infected with Ebola do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

High fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat are often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, internal and external bleeding.

To contain the spread of the virus, patients and people who have been in contact with them are routinely isolated.

Medical personnel are meticulously protected with disposable full-body plastic suits, masks, goggles, gloves and disinfecting sprays.

The ministry asked the public to be vigilant and report suspected cases of the virus to the nearest health facilities or through its emergency operations centre via hotlines +254 732 353535 and +254 729 471414.

-Additional reporting by AFP