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UN committee meets Friday on Ebola emergency in Uganda, DRC

Ministry of health has one person has succumbed to Ebola, while three others cases have been confrimed in Kasese District in western Uganda. (PHOTO/File)

KASESE – The World Health Organization (WHO)  of the United Nations says an expert committee will meet on Friday to discuss whether to declare the Ebola outbreak a global health emergency.

This is the third time the committee is meeting on the current Ebola outbreak, which has killed nearly 1,400 people since it was declared in August.

The WHO announcement comes a day after the first cross-border case in this outbreak was confirmed.

A 5-year-old boy who crossed from Congo into Uganda earlier this week has since died. Three relatives in Uganda also have the highly contagious virus.

The WHO says three more cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Uganda after the first was announced late Tuesday.

The three new cases are believed to be family members of the 5-year-old boy who entered Uganda from eastern Congo earlier this week and has since died.

Family members, including the boy’s mother, have been isolated at a hospital near the Congo border.

These are the first Ebola cases outside Congo since the outbreak began in August. Nearly 1,400 people have died.

Authorities are trying to determine how the family, exposed to the virus, managed to cross the border.

PML Daily has since indemnified that boy’s mother is Congolese but his father is Ugandan; they live in Uganda, near the border. The family had traveled to DRC to see the woman’s father. He died from Ebola in late May.

A group of 14 family members set off to return to Uganda, arriving at a village called Kasindi near the border on June 10. Of the group, seven are children, ranging in age from 7 months to 12 years of age.

When they arrived at Kasindi, 12 members of the group were experiencing symptoms, and they stopped there at a health facility. They were directed to an isolation center, but then six members of the family fled the facility, crossing into Uganda, said the Congolese Health Ministry, which alerted Ugandan authorities of the family’s movements. The group that crossed the border included the boy, his mother, and four others.

The WHO’s country office for Uganda said that after crossing the border, the group sought care at a hospital in Kagando, where health workers recognized the boy was likely infected with Ebola.

The boy was transferred to an Ebola treatment center at Bwera, one of the facilities Uganda has set up in anticipation of the possibility of seeing cases imported from DRC. He was tested for the virus there.

For months, Uganda has been preparing for the possibility that a case arising from the outbreak in DRC could spill into their territories, with Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda vaccinating health workers in health facilities near their borders with DRC.

Uganda has vaccinated nearly 5,000 health workers at 165 health facilities, including both the one where the boy is being treated, and the one at Kagando where his family first stopped for care.

Nearly 1,400 people have died since this outbreak was declared in August.

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