Mulago on alert as Ebola cases hit 30
Posted Friday, August 3 2012 at 01:00
Activity in Mulago. Hospital bars relatives of victim who died of suspected Ebola from taking body for burial, insisting they wait for results of tests.
One person yesterday died of suspected Ebola at Mulago Hospital as 12 new cases of the haemorrhagic fever were registered at Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale District, health officials confirmed last night.
Permanent secretary Asuman Lukwago said the latest fatality was a case from Luzira, a Kampala suburb, and the patient checked-in with diarrhea and vomiting.
“The relatives wanted to take the body but we stopped them because we have sent samples to Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe to establish if he died of Ebola or some other infection.”
This development came amidst unconfirmed reports that the national referral hospital was separately handling eight suspected Ebola cases following the death last month at the facility of a clinical officer referred from Kibaale.
Last evening, when Daily Monitor visited, hospital staff were erecting an isolation centre at the former cholera treatment just outside the fence of new Mulago to handle suspected cases.
In a statement issued yesterday, the acting Director General of Health Services, Dr Dennis Lwamafa, said: “The Ministry of Health response teams in Kampala are on the alert to respond to any suspected cases in and around Kampala.”
The same statement indicated that 12 new cases had been registered at Kagadi Hospital and two are confirmed to have Ebola while the rest are being treated as suspects.
A total of 16 people have so far died of the fever while the number of people being ‘actively followed up’ has risen from 176 to 232 in the last 48 hours.
Meanwhile, several institutions yesterday announced a raft of guidelines in an attempt to check the spread of the disease. Among them is Parliament which has banned private visits by ‘large groups’ while the President security outfit, the Special Forces Group, has asked its members to avoid high-risk areas like Kagadi.
A notice issued by Parliament said on advice of the Sergeant-At-Arms, “It had been deemed necessary to suspend all visits to Parliament by large groups of people.”
The statement also asks MPs to suspend calling visitors and arranging school visits for schools in their constituencies.
The Special Forces Group told its officers to “avoid unnecessary movement especially to high risk areas like Kagadi and neighbouring districts”. A notice dated July 30 at the group’s headquarters in Entebbe stated: “Your health is important, please guard it well.”
On the revenue side, the national tourism authority announced that the number of tourists to Kibale National Park has started dipping, with many tourists confusing it with the epicenter of the outbreak.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority yesterday issued a statement indicating that tourists were confusing the park, famous for chimpanzee trekking, with Kibaale District, the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, which is 90 kilometres away.
Dr Andrew Seguya, the UWA executive director, said besides closeness in name, the two shared nothing more in common.
Mr Edwin Muzahura, an official of the Uganda Tourism Board, said they would have concrete figures on the drop in tourists today although he said tour operators had indicated that tourists were cancelling their orders.
Mr Amos Wekesa, a tour operator, said he has been getting persistent emails from potential visitors in Europe asking if they would be safe in Uganda. “If the government does nothing in terms of damage control, a lot of jobs are going to be on the line,” he told Huffingtonpost, an American news blog.
The tourism ministry, however, insists that there is no cause for alarm.
Compiled by Francis Mugerwa, George Muzoora, Edison Ndyasiima, Sheila Naturinda, Martin Ssebuyira, Flavia Nalubega & Tabu Butagira.