Experts fear sporadic Ebola spread in Uganda as contacts escape medical care

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Oct. 27 that the spread of Ebola in new areas including urban centers is a matter of concern.

Health experts are warning that people who have had contact with Ebola patients and are evading medical care may escalate the spread of the highly contagious viral disease in the east African country.

Henry Kyobe, incident commander with the Ministry of Health, in a tweet on Wednesday said these contacts eventually show up for medical attention when it is too late.

“I commit on behalf of the Ministry of Health and government to treat you. What I can’t commit on is whether we shall save your life if you get to us late,” Kyobe said.

“We shall be using all means available to us to get these contacts identified, listed, quarantined and follow up as per our guidelines; but stringent coercive measures will be the last resort, should all other means fail,” he added.

At a community meeting in Kassanda district, one of the most affected, Minister of Health Ruth Aceng on Tuesday urged the public to always heed to the ministry guidelines.

“We talked to them about Ebola, the dangers of running away from teams and the advantages of going for treatment early,” Aceng said.

Aceng was leading a delegation to Mubende and Kassanda districts, which are currently under a 21-day lockdown, to assess the containment measures.

According to Diana Atwine, ministry of health permanent secretary, continuous community engagements in dispelling myths on Ebola is yielding results on acceptance of the ministry’s interventions.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak has spread to seven districts which include Bunyangabu, Kagadi, Kampala, Kassanda, Kyegegwa, Mubende and Wakiso. The majority of new cases are epidemiologically linked to known cases.

Of the cases reported in Kampala capital city, 13 were linked to a man who escaped from Kassanda district to Kampala from where he died. Among the people he infected were his family members including the wife and six children who attend three different schools in Kampala, as well as two healthcare workers who cared for him.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Oct. 27 that the spread of Ebola in new areas including urban centers is a matter of concern.

“Ebola control in urban areas can be complex and requires coordinated and sustained efforts to interrupt transmission,” Tedros said.

Samuel Oledo, president of the Uganda Medical Association called for the locking down of the capital Kampala to contain the spread of the disease on a local radio program on Oct. 24.

The government however said the lockdown of the capital city is not necessary for now.

The Ministry of Health, with partners like WHO, has trained around 300 contact tracers and over 1,200 village health team members. According to the ministry, these teams are at the frontline of the country’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

The Ministry of Health figures showed that as of Oct. 26, the country has registered 115 confirmed cases, 32 deaths since the outbreak was announced on Sept. 20. The figures showed that 2,168 people are listed for follow up because they are contacts to the confirmed Ebola cases.

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