Ebola outbreak: Museveni warns against shaking hands in Uganda

President Museveni

There is tension amongst Kampala residents after it was reported that the deadly Ebola virus affected two people there.  A Kampala resident, Abwooli Kakubebe says she will not board taxis (PSV) until the situation is back to normal, in order to avoid coming in close contact with people.  At boda boda stages and in taxis, it is the talk. City dwellers are worried that with the congestion in Kampala, if there is an outbreak, it would be fatal.  “Leero tufudde” (This time we are finished!), an elderly woman, remarked after hearing the news on one of the FM stations about the outbreak in Kampala.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), mid 2011 estimated a population of 1.6 million in Kampala. This comes in wake of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni banning all kinds of physical contacts after a victim of Ebola virus was reported in the country’s capital, Kampala, for the very first time. In a state broadcast today, Mr Museveni said the Health Ministry is “tracing all people who have had contact with the victims.” He said that since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola in Midwestern Uganda three weeks ago, 14 people had died.

Two cases have since been reported in the capital. He said one of the victims reportedly died in Mulago National Referral Hospital, Kampala. The president called upon people not to shake hands to avoid the spread of the killer virus. He said: “Ebola spreads by contact when you contact each other physically… avoid shaking of hands that can cause contact through sweat, which can cause problems….Do not take on burying somebody who has died from symptoms that look like Ebola — instead call health workers because they know how to do it…avoid promiscuity because this sickness can also go through sex.” It has been revealed that seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago Hospital, Kampala have been quarantined after at least one or two cases were taken there, with one later dying from the virus.

A statement from the ministry of health indicates that people were delaying to present themselves to seek for treatment, partly because they believed that the cause of the illness was due to “evil spirits”.   This, the statement adds, caused civil strife among the community requiring Police intervention to quell the animosity.  The latest outbreak began in Kibaale, 200 Kilometres west of the capital Kampala.  Uganda has seen three major outbreaks over the past 12 years. The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.  There is no vaccine for the virus. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and kidneys problems.

Meanwhile the minister of health Dr Christine Ondoa says they have set up a temporary isolation centre at Kagadi Hospital, in Kibaale to handle suspected cases of Ebola.  Ondoa says the facility will be beefed up with a medical team from Mulago national referral hospital to manage the suspected cases.  Relatedly, the Uganda Red Cross Society has mobilised over 100 volunteers to help in the effort to combat the deadly virus. According to the spokesperson of Uganda Red Cross, Catherine Ntabadde, more than 100 volunteers are undergoing training to support the dissemination of information about the disease and its transmission to the vulnerable communities.

The in charge of general programs and projects at URCS Dr. Bildard Baguma says the volunteers will start work by this Friday.  Dr Baguma adds that the volunteers will also be involved in active case search and follow up of the contacts suspected or confirmed to be of Ebola. He explains that: “The volunteers will also be involved in counseling, rehabilitation and distributions of kits to survivors.”

© 2012, Paschal B Bagonza. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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