Health ministry downplays calls to declare Kasese Ebola-free

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The ministry of Health has downplayed calls to declare Kasese district free of the deadly Ebola virus. 

A call had been made by the deputy resident district commissioner Joshua Masereka for the district to be declared Ebola-free on grounds that disease had been contained with no new infections recorded since the first cases which were confirmed on June 11. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ebola infection symptoms usually manifest themselves within 21 days after contact with an infected person. 

Three people tested positive of Ebola in the western Uganda district. Two of the victims eventually died and were buried in Kasese while the third victim, who, was repatriated to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for further therapeutic management, died before he could reach Beni where the Ebola Treatment Centre is located.  

The remaining suspected fourteen cases tested negative and have since been discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit at Bwera hospital in Kasese. Masereka said it was clear that the district has contained the disease, and perhaps it was time the ministry declared Kasese free of the monstrous disease.

But Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng argued that much as Uganda has contained the disease, there remains an imminent threat posed by the persistence of the deadly disease in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC has been grappling with the Ebola since August 2018. 

More than 1500 people have succumbed to the viral disease since it was first registered at Mangina in the North Kivu Province with a fatality rate of 67 per cent. Aceng argues that the fact that the DRC still has the epidemic, the chances of it spilling over are high, adding that until the DRC is free of the disease; Uganda will not declare an end to the outbreak unless advised otherwise by WHO.

Aceng told health workers who convened at Margarita hotel in Kasese town that it takes 21 days for the Ebola symptoms to emerge and stressed that during that window period one should avoid contacts with the Ebola suspects to break further infections.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the regional director for World health Organisation-Africa appealed to Ugandan health workers to remain focused and vigilant in the fight against the Ebola. Moeti said that WHO is committed to supporting Uganda in preventing the spread until the DRC is also free of the disease. 

The incubation period for Ebola ranges between 2-21 days after infection, according to guidelines by the WHO. During this time, it is believed that individuals infected with the virus are not contagious. The mean incubation time for the outbreak in Uganda in 2000, with a total of 425 cases was calculated at 4 days.

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