Pilgrims to this year’s Uganda Marty’s Day celebrations will be screened for Ebola haemorrhagic fever upon arrival in Namugongo, government has said.
According to the health ministry, screening points will be set up at the Catholic, Anglican and Muslim martyr’s sites in Namugongo in the capital Kampala.
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, Senior Public Relations officer Ministry of Health said Thursday that they will screen for Ebola because they expect to receive a number of pilgrims from the Democratic Republic of Congo where there is an Ebola outbreak.
The outbreak declared in eastern DRC last August has killed more than 1,200 people in two provinces -- Ituri and North Kivu -- and new cases have surged in recent weeks.
“Already there are pilgrims coming from eastern DRC who are here to pray for the situation to improve in their country. We shall have a number of health checks around Namugongo which include sensitization of the pilgrims. There's already a team deployed to ensure that no one goes to Namugongo to spread Ebla and also ensure that at the end of the celebrations, every pilgrim is safe from any infection,”Mr Ainebyoona told journalists on Thursday.
Ambulances and health surveillance teams will also be stationed at entry points of all the shrines by the end of the week to screen arriving pilgrims.
The ministry urges all pilgrims to pay close attention to their surroundings and neighbours during their stay at Namugongo and report any suspected Ebola cases.
According to doctors, it takes 21 days for the Ebola virus to mature in an infected person and start producing the known signs and symptoms like bleeding through body openings, high temperatures, fevers, vomiting and diarrhoea.
This year’s celebrations at the Catholic Shrine will be led by Gulu Archdiocese while at the Anglican Shrine, prayers will be led by five dioceses- West Buganda, Central Buganda, Mityana, Mukono and Luweero.
UN names Ebola czar for DRC outbreak
Meanwhile, the UN named a pointman on Thursday to coordinate the global response to the devastating Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as it ramps up efforts to contain the outbreak.
David Gressly, currently serving as the UN's deputy special representative in DRC, will take charge of the anti-Ebola effort, the World Health Organization said in a statement.
Containing the virus has proved especially challenging because of militia violence in the region.
"We have no time to lose," Gressly said in the statement, adding that the epidemic required "an enhanced, UN-wide response."
WHO has also accused political leaders in the affected region of manipulating the Ebola issue to turn people against health workers.
The response has been helped by the use of a new vaccine, given to an estimated 120,000 people.
But the UN remains concerned the virus could still spread beyond eastern DRC into neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.
The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after an epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa in 2014-16.