Residents and leaders in Bunyoro sub-region are demanding heightened health and security surveillance following an outbreak of Ebola in the country.
The call comes a day after the Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in Mubende district, an area that shares a common border with Kakumiro district in Bunyoro region. The latest outbreak follows six suspicious deaths in Mubende district so far this month. Eight suspected cases are receiving care in a health facility.
According to the ministry, a sample taken from a 24-year-old man from Madudu sub county was identified as the relatively rare Sudan strain of Ebola, a severe and often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. This is the first time in more than a decade that the Sudan strain has been found in Uganda, which also saw an outbreak of the Zaire strain of Ebola virus in 2019.
The Sudan strain has a case fatality rate of between 41 and 100 percent, yet it is not clear if existing vaccines against Ebola will be successful against it. Based on this, area leaders are concerned that the disease could devastate the area since residents in the two districts often interact and transact businesses together.
Kakumiro town councillor Paul Masengere wants security and health personnel deployed in taxi and bus parks to strengthen health surveillance. He says since the district borders Mubende which is the epicentre of the current Ebola outbreak, there is a need for special attention to be accorded to the region at large.
Leonard Okello, a resident of Buseruka in Hoima district says that currently, there is nothing much being done to prevent the further spread of the disease along the Lake Albert shores yet several porous border points are allowing nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo to freely enter and exit the country.
Benjamin Kyomuhendo, a resident of Sebigoro landing site in Kikuube says health officials should revamp all the COVID-19 surveillance teams and deploy enough health personnel in the area to screen and test all those coming into the country from DRC.
Elizabeth Atuhairwe, the deputy speaker of Kakumiro district local government says all the COVID-19 response and surveillance teams should be reinstated and people must embrace the guidelines if the outbreak of the disease is to be contained.
Hoima District Health Officer-DHO Dr Lawrence Tumusiime says that they have reinstated all the COVID-19 response and surveillance teams on all landing sites to screen people entering Uganda from DRC for Ebola.
Similarly, Buliisa Resident District Commissioner-RDC Stephen Byaruhanga Mfashingabo says the district has deployed a team of security and health officers on all landing sites to screen DRC nationals entering the district. He adds that they have deployed Marine police and UPDF soldiers to patrol the Uganda-DR Congo border.
Kikuube Resident District Commissioner-RDC Amlan Tumusiime says that they have tightened security along the Uganda-DRC border to control cross-border movements and further influx of DRC nationals in the country.
Kikuube District Vice Chairperson Vincent Alpha Opio has called on residents to be vigilant and report to health and security authorities any suspicious persons in their area for quick action especially those settling on the shores of Lake Albert.