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Ebola deaths at five as 40 are monitored

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Officials of the Ebola task force bury the remains of Tom Kasente Njeregeza, a boda boda cyclist and resident of Kichwamba Village in Mpumudde Sub-county, Lyantonde District.

Officials of the Ebola task force bury the remains of Tom Kasente Njeregeza, a boda boda cyclist and resident of Kichwamba Village in Mpumudde Sub-county, Lyantonde District. Kasente died hours after he had exhibited Ebola-like symptoms and his blood samples have been taken for testing. PHOTO BY MALIK FAHD JJINGO. 

By Agatha Ayebazibwe, Dan Wandera and Samuel Kaweesa.

Posted  Monday, November 19   2012 at  02:00

In Summary

Task force mandated to bury Ebola victims looks on in disbelief as mourners grab dead body from them and threaten to lynch the team, insisting they must wash the corpse.

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Kampala/LUWEERO

One more person succumbed to the Ebola virus yesterday, bringing the death toll in the latest outbreak of the dreaded haemorrhagic fever in the country to five.

The victim, a 29-year-old woman, died at Bombo Hospital, some 30 kilometres north of Kampala, where she was admitted on Tuesday last week.

Halima Nakimbugwe is said to have contracted the disease while nursing her husband, a boda boda rider, who was the first person to die in the latest epidemic in Luweero District.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Rukia Nakamatte, said Nakimbugwe died yesterday afternoon at Bombo Hospital, where results of the tests carried out confirmed that she had contracted Ebola.

Two other people confirmed to have been infected with the virus have been admitted to Mulago Hospital. Another 12 suspected to have been infected with the virus are also admitted to Mulago, while another six are at Bombo Hospital. “The number of confirmed Ebola patients remains the two admitted to Mulago Hospital, while the number of contacts has risen from 34 to 40. These are being monitored both in Kampala and Bombo,” Ms Nakamatte said.

Another suspect, this time from Mbarara, was also admitted to Mulago yesterday after he presented signs of the Ebola fever. His blood samples have been taken for tests and results are expected soon.

In Luweero, a burial team set up by the District Ebola Task Force to ensure that bodies of those confirmed or suspected to have Ebola are handled and buried by a special team, yesterday narrowly escaping lynching by mourners who snatched a body from the Nakatonya Muslim Cemetery in Bombo Town Council.

According the Luweero District disease surveillance officer, Mr Richard Kawenyera, the mourners armed with clubs, sticks and stones accused the special burial team of violating Muslim burial rites by wrapping the dead body in a bag. They insisted on washing the body before burial as part of the Islamic rites.

“We are worried because we do not know what happened afterwards. The blood sample was taken to the Uganda Virus Research Institute and the results had not been received to confirm whether or not he died of Ebola. If a positive result turns up, these people will have touched the body of an Ebola victim,” Mr Kawenyera said on Saturday.

The Luweero District Health Officer, Dr Joseph Okware, said the man’s body had been taken to the Nyimbwa Health Centre IV by relatives, after he was found dead in a store at Ndejje University on Friday.

“They wanted us to ascertain the cause of death since he is a resident of Kakute Village in Nyimbwa Sub-county, where there has been an Ebola outbreak. We handled the case carefully until we got information that the mourners had grabbed the body from our team.”

A special isolation centre for both the suspected and confirmed cases is being set up with the support from the Medecines Sans Frotiers, at Nyimbwa Health Centre IV, where patients are expected to be transferred to from Bombo Military Hospital on Monday (today).

In Nakasongola District, traditional healers have been banned from admitting patients whom they do not know following the Ebola outbreak which has claimed two lives in the neighbouring Luweero District.

This follows reports that an Ebola patient from Luweero may have been rushed to one of the traditional medicine men’s shrines in Nakasongola before she died. This has sparked off panic among local residents.

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