Left Menu
Development News Edition

New Ebola cases in Uganda raise fears of spread beyond Congo

Reuters | Kampala | Updated: 12-06-2019 21:57 IST | Created: 12-06-2019 21:42 IST
New Ebola cases in Uganda raise fears of spread beyond Congo
Image Credit: Twitter(@As_SyIFRC)

Uganda announced two more cases of Ebola on Wednesday - a grandmother and a three-year-old boy, confirming that a deadly outbreak has spread for the first time beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ugandan cases show the epidemic is entering a "truly frightening" phase and could kill many more people, one infectious disease specialist told Reuters.

A five-year-old boy who had crossed into Uganda from Congo died late on Tuesday, said Uganda's health minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, and his family were now being monitored in isolation. The two new victims were the boy's brother and grandmother, the Ugandan Health Ministry said. His grandfather had recently died of Ebola.

Uganda plans to repatriate the two patients with Ebola to Congo, saying they can get better treatment in specialised 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 neighbouring 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, diarrhoea and bleeding.

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

VIOLENT BACKLASH

Authorities have struggled to contain the disease partly because health workers have been repeatedly attacked in conflict-ravaged eastern Congo, the epicentre 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 rumours that the disease is a ruse to try to rig elections in the area, where dozens of armed groups operate. Other rumours accuse health teams of spreading the disease. Many victims have sought treatment with traditional healers instead.

Uganda, which has been on high alert for a possible spread of Ebola and has already vaccinated many frontline health workers, is relatively well prepared to contain the virus. WHO is bringing in 3,500 additional vaccines and will begin vaccinating more people on Friday. "The current cases in Uganda will be quickly contained but the failure to stop the current Ebola epidemic in DRC is simply tragic," said Ian Jones, a professor of virology at Britain's Reading University.

Eastern Congo also borders South Sudan, which is struggling to emerge from five years of devastating civil war and whose health facilities are basic even in the capital. "We are deeply concerned for countries such as South Sudan that do not have the infrastructure to handle an outbreak," Whitney Elmer, Congo country director at aid group Mercy Corps.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Why COVID-19 is unstoppable in USA despite it being ranked at the top of GHS Index?

Several worst-hit countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, and Russia have peaked COVID-19 cases in April. Almost all of them have gradually flattened the curve. However, the USA is setting new daily records of infections tha...

COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

Videos

Latest News

20-yr-old youth arrested in Hyderabad for harassing minor girl

A 20-year-old youth was arrested by Rachakonda police for allegedly harassing a minor girl by sending sexually explicit photos through a social media platform. On July 6, Rachakonda Cyber Crime Police arrested Danaboina Shubham Yadav 20, a ...

Policy change on international students is misguided, say US universities and lawmakers

Several Congressman and top educational institutions decried the policy change that will require international students who are in the United States with an F-1 visa to take at least one in-person course or else face the prospect of being d...

Televangelists, megachurches tied to Trump approved for millions in pandemic aid

Megachurches and other religious organizations with ties to vocal supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump were approved for millions of dollars in forgivable loans from a taxpayer-funded pandemic aid bailout, according to long-awaited gov...

Dozen of bodies found in Burkina Faso, and rights group suspects extrajudicial killings

At least 180 bodies have been found in common graves in Djibo, a town in the north of Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch HRW, said in a report released on Wednesday, saying that the killings were likely carried out by government forces. Avail...

Give Feedback