Man steals phone from Ebola patient, gets infected

Sunday August 26 2012

By Francis Mugerwa


Security and medical officials in Kibaale District have registered a case in which a man allegedly went in an isolation ward at Kagadi Hospital and stole a cellular phone from one of the Ebola patients.

The 40-year-old resident of Kyakabugahya LCI in Kagadi Town Council travelled about three kilometers to the hospital to apparently obtain a phone estimated to be valued at Shs60,000 more than two weeks ago.

The suspect allegedly broke into the isolation ward on the night of Tuesday August 14, undetected by hospital guards. The patient, who has since succumbed to the deadly hemorrhagic fever, then reported the theft to the hospital security that then embarked on tracing the alleged thief.

Police detectives began tracking him after he apparently began communicating to his friends using the phone. But as police zeroed in on him, he developed symptoms similar to those of Ebola and sought medication at the hospital.

While at hospital he reportedly confessed stealing the phone and has handed it to Kagadi police.
“Kagadi Police Station received that complaint and investigations are underway,” Mr John Ojokuna Elatu, the district police commander confirmed to Sunday Monitor. He, however, declined to reveal the identities of the suspect.


In his confession made to the police, the suspect, now patient, claimed he had visited the isolation ward to give them comfort although he confessed to knowing none in person.

The Kibaale District Health Officer, Dr Dan Kyamanywa, said: “The suspect is admitted at Kagadi Hospital with clinical signs of Ebola.” “He is receiving medication. We have obtained samples from him,” Mr Kyamanywa added. The Uganda Virus Research Institute had by press time not returned results of his tests.

The district Ebola taskforce on Wednesday registered four members of one family with symptoms similar to those of Ebola. The residents of Ngara LCI in Kyanaisoke Sub-county are in an isolation ward at Kagadi Hospital.

The number of patients discharged from hospital stands at 53 and 40 are being followed up. The taskforce vice chairman, Mr Stephen Mfashigabo, said over 380 contacts on Wednesday completed 21 days of follow up and have been declared Ebola negative.