Uganda intensifies Ebola screening at DRC border posts

Friday May 11 2018

Health officials in western Uganda wearing

Health officials in western Uganda wearing Ebola protective gears during an outbreak in July 2012. A new outbreak of Ebola in the DRC has claimed 17 lives. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

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Uganda has began screening of all travellers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following the outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic fever in the neighbouring country.

The disease has killed at least 17 people in the northwestern Bikoro town in DRC.

Uganda's acting director-general at the Ministry of Health, Dr Henry Mwebesa, said all travellers will be required to fill a screening form. They will also receive a leaflet with information about Ebola and contact numbers of the surveillance officers.

“A private medical centre within the airport has been equipped to provide counselling and clinical screening of all suspects. A standby ambulance with a driver and relevant protective gear has been provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is available twenty four-seven,” Dr Mwebesa said in a press statement.

The ministry has also directed district administrators to activate the District Task Forces in preparation for any possible outbreak. The districts are Kampala, Wakiso, Kisoro, Kanungu, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Hoima, Bulisa, Nebbi, Arua, Maracha, Koboko, Kibaale and Kabbala.

DRC is one of Uganda's major export market and its main border post are Mpondwe in Kasese district, Bunagana in Kisoro and Goli in Nebbi.

There is also a lot of cross-border movements of informal traders in the two countries.

Uganda's eastern neighbour Kenya is also on high alert and has installed thermal guns at points of entry for screening.

The Ebola virus is highly infectious and very deadly.

It is contracted by contact with bodily fluids.

Following an incubation period of between two and 21 days, Ebola develops into a high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat. That is often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.

This is the ninth time Ebola outbreak in DRC since it was first identified near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

Some 25 suspected cases have been recorded, of whom 17 have died.