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UCC suspends consumer outreach meetings in West Nile over Ebola

Ms. Pamela Ankunda, Manager consumer affairs department at UCC speaks to the media at Communications House recently (PHOTO/File)

WEST NILE/KAMPALA – Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has Wednesday, June 12, 2019, halted all its consumer outreaches in West Nile, citing a government directive to suspend all market days and mass gatherings at all DRC border Communities.

A large Ebola outbreak has raged DR Congo for the last 10 months.

While the consumer help week has been going great in West Nile, the UCC has suspended its outreaches in Kubala, Arua, Paidha and other areas including Koboko and Odramacaco.

“We must, unfortunately, adhere to the advice by Government to suspend all market days and mass gatherings at all DRC border Communities,” UCC noted in a statement shared to this website.

The directive to suspend all market days and mass gatherings at all DRC border Communities was issued by Ministry of Health after Uganda on Tuesday confirmed a child was diagnosed with Ebola, the first cross-border case from the DRC.

Just a day after, the ministry has confirmed three more cases of Ebola, all relatives to five-year-old who was first diagnosed with the disease.

Meanwhile, the five-year-old boy has since succumbed to disease, both health ministry and World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations (UN) have confirmed.

“The young patient – 5- year-old index case of Ebola died last night. Two more samples were sent to UVRI and have tested positive. We, therefore, have three confirmed cases of Ebola in Uganda,” Minister Aceng said

The death is the first in Uganda, amid a deadly outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 2,000 cases have been recorded in DRC in the last 10 months – most of which have been fatal.

WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Tuesday said that he will convene an advisory body — called an emergency committee — as quickly as possible to review the situation and decide whether the outbreak now poses a global health threat.

Mr. Ghebreyesus said Uganda and partners have been working for months to protect the border area against just this type of event.

“It’s never good news to have Ebola,” he said but suggested the preparatory work should help contain the threat.

The deceased child crossed into Uganda with his family in Bwera, near the Congolese city of Butembo. The Congolese Health Ministry told WHO that the family was traveling from Mabalako. Both Mabalako and Butembo have experienced intense Ebola transmission of late, Minister Aceng told the media on Tuesday.

This website independently verified that the 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.

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