Official update on Ebola by the Uganda Minister of Health
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Ebola is gaining attention in Uganda while tourism remains safe. This is a tough message to sell, but authorities are transparent on updating the situation.
The Ministry of Health would like to update the public that Uganda has so far registered 3 confirmed cases of Ebola. Two of these have since passed on. The most recent being the 5O-year-old grandmother of the deceased index Ebola case who travelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the June 10, 2019 and tested positive for Ebola but died last evening at 4:00 pm. She will be accorded a safe burial at a public cemetery today in Kasese District.
Teams from the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) Uganda and Center for Disease Control (CDC) led by Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng travelled to Bwera yesterday, 12th June 2019 and joined the District Task Force chaired by the Resident District Commissioner of Kasese District. In this meeting, a situation report was discussed and further strategies laid down on how to improve screening at border points of entry including the nonofficial entry points. Financial support to the district was also discussed and the meeting resolved that the district should immediately prepare a work plan including a budget and submit to the Ministry of Health for urgent consideration. Several partners who attended the meeting reaffirmed their commitment to support the district.
At about 3:00 pm, teams from Ministry of Health DRC led by Dr. Tshapenda Gaston joined the meeting. They came into Uganda at the invitation of the Ugandan Minister of Health. The purpose of their invitation was to harmonize ideas on how to further strengthen screening at the border points, prompt sharing of information and conclude the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with DRC that also includes cross border movements of patients. It was resolved that all the unofficial points of entry would be manned on both Ugandan and DRC sides and information on any unusual event shared immediately. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding will be undertaken within two weeks.
During the meeting, the teams from DRC requested for the possibility of Uganda accepting the repatriation of the Congolese who were confirmed Ebola cases and were being managed at the Bwera ETU. The DRC team proposed to repatriate six (6) Ebola patients back to DRC to enable them access medicines for therapeutic treatment which are available in the DRC as well as receive family support and comfort since they had 6 other relatives who had remained behind in DRC and 5 of whom had also been confirmed positive for Ebola.
The repatriation is on condition that the patients and their relatives give informed consent and willingly accept to go to the DRC while those who are not willing to consent will be retained and managed in Uganda.
The 5 patients due for repatriation include; one confirmed case; brother of the deceased index case and 4suspected cases who are; mother of the deceased index case, her 6-month old baby, their maid and father of the deceased index case who is a Ugandan.
Today, June 13, 2019 at 10:00 am, the DRC team successfully repatriated five people. These are: mother of the deceased index case, the 3-year-old confirmed Ebola case, her 6-month old baby and the maid. The father of the deceased index case who is Ugandan also agreed to be repatriated with his family. All the six people who entered Uganda from DRC have now been accounted for.
As of now, there is no confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda. However, 3 suspected cases not related to the deceased index case remain in isolation at Bwera Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit. Their blood samples have been sent to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and results are pending.
Uganda remains in Ebola response mode to follow up the 27 contacts of the deceased index case and the 3 suspected cases.
The teams from the Ministry of Health, DRC also donated a total of 400 doses of ‘Ebola-rVSV’ vaccines to support Uganda embark on ring vaccination of the contacts to the confirmed cases and non-vaccinated frontline health and other workers. The vaccination will start on Friday, June 14, 2019. Furthermore, WHO Uganda and WHO Geneva have already flown in 4,000 more doses of the vaccine to scale up the vaccination activity.
The Ugandan team led by the Minister of Health also held a meeting with the leadership of the Kingdom of Rwenzururu (Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu) as they plan to bury the late Queen Mother of the King of Rwenzururu and agreed on the following:
- Ministry of Health will provide guidelines for use by the Kingdom, tomorrow Friday 14th June 2019 taking into consideration the current Ebola outbreak and the importance of infection control and prevention to minimize spread of Ebola.
- All Kingdom executives, Organizing committee members, and all the residents of the Palace will undergo sensitization on Ebola prior to the burial of the late Queen Mother to equip them with information and encourage to disseminate to the entire Kingdom.
- Surveillance teams will support burial arrangements of the late Queen Mother and processes to ensure minimal risk of spread of infection.
Ministry of Health would like to re-assure the International travelers that Uganda is safe and all our national parks and tourist sites remain open and accessible to the public.
We appeal to the public and malicious individuals to desist from spreading false rumors about the Ebola outbreak generally and on social media. The outbreak is REAL and we urge all residents of Uganda to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or call our toll-free number 0800-203-033 or 0800-100-066
The Ministry of Health appreciates all its partners for their unwavering support in the preparedness phase and their commitment in the now response phase.