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We are scared! Kenya on high alert as Ebola breaks out in Uganda

Travellers screened for the Ebola virus before getting into Kenya at the Busia One Stop Border Post on June 12, 2019, following the confirmed cases in Kasese, western Uganda. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

BUSIA – Kenyan health officers at the Busia One Stop Border Post are on high alert following an Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Uganda.

This began on Wednesday 12, following the outbreak in Kasese in western Uganda.

Joshua Arusei, the Port Health Services Officer said over 300 people have been screened since Tuesday when the outbreak was reported.

He said officers were examining all travellers from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

“We are also checking travel records using passports before allowing the travellers into the country,” Mr. Arusei said, adding the department was ready for eventualities.

“We are ready to attend to emergencies at Busia County Referral Hospital just metres away. All suspected cases, especially for those found with temperatures above 38 degrees, must be quarantined,” he added.

Mr. Arusei urged the public to use designated routes in order for officials to examine them in the bid to prevent infections and an outbreak.

“We are working closely with police to ensure everybody uses designated routes,” he said.

However, a spot check by the Nation revealed that some Ugandan and Kenyan citizens were moving freely without necessarily being subjected to screening, posing a threat.

OFFICIAL ALERT

The Health Ministry issued a statement, saying it had issued an alert to all health workers and the public for enhancement of surveillance measures.

“The ministry continues to monitor the evolution of the prolonged Ebola outbreak in the DRC which began in August 2018, with a view to strengthening the country’s preparedness and response capacity,” the statement read.

Besides issuing the alert and heightening screening, the ministry and other actors have:

  1. Developed an Ebola Contingency Plan to guide implementation of prevention and response activities.
  2. Set up a multiagency preparedness and response committee to coordinate preparedness and response measures.
  3. Established Ebola Rapid Response Teams, which are made up of medical specialists in disease control and laboratory scientists trained in investigation and testing. The ministry noted that Kenya has Ebola experts who responded to the 2014-16 outbreaks in West Africa.
  4. Made arrangements for the isolation of suspected cases, using the Ebola Treatment Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital and temporary holding rooms at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. People suspected to have the virus will be kept in the holding rooms and examined for possible transfer to isolation facilities.
  5. Prepositioned personal protective equipment and other supplies at all points of entry into Kenya. These include hand hygiene supplies, examination equipment and pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies.

Early this week, the Ministry of Health announced the Ebola outbreak in Kasese District.

This was after a 5-year-old boy who was admitted and isolated at Bwera Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit tested positive and died Tuesday night.

On Monday, the Ministry held a media briefing on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Kigezi Region at Manhattan Hotel, Kabale to sensitise journalists on correct EVD reporting.

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