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WHO Says Uganda’s Ebola Outbreak Under Control

  • Andrew Green

KAMPALA — Officials say Uganda’s Ebola outbreak, which has so far killed 16 people, is now under control. It has now been almost one week since the last reported death from the virus, though teams continue to search for unreported infections.

Though the Ebola outbreak in western Uganda’s Kibaale District is not yet fully contained, Dr. Joaquim Saweka of the World Health Organization says it is under control.

“It is under control in the sense that we have isolated and we are treating all suspected and confirmed cases. We are tracing all the possible contacts,” Saweka said.

One patient was diagnosed with the virus yesterday, bringing the total to 60 since the outbreak was confirmed on July 28. Of those patients, 30 remain in isolation.

A team from Uganda’s ministry of health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the WHO have also tracked nearly 400 people who came into contact with patients diagnosed with Ebola. About 250 are still being monitored for signs of the virus. They will not be declared clear until 21 days after they last came into contact with one of the patients.

Cases of transmission have been limited to the western part of the country. One health worker died in Kampala after traveling to the western area, sparking fears that the virus might spread in the highly populated capital. In addition, a prisoner suspected of having Ebola temporarily escaped custody at the hospital where he was being treated. He was quickly located by police and health workers, who are continuing to monitor him for symptoms.

Despite these incidents, Saweka says there is no evidence Ebola has moved beyond Kibaale District.

“But this does not mean that we are not receiving a lot of alerts from all over the country. So each time they call there is a national rapid response team, there is also a district rapid response team. So any claim, any alert, it is followed up and it is verified,” Saweka said.

He says trained health workers are also continuing to travel through Kibaale District to search for any additional patients who have not reported to health centers.

President Yoweri Museveni and other officials have warned people to avoid physical contact and highly populated areas until the outbreak is declared over. Museveni followed his own advice when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Uganda last week, declining to shake her hand upon arrival.

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