What you need to know:
- The suspected cases have been isolated at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, the facility where the confirmed index fatality and probable victims who died, received treatment.
BY TONNY ABET
The number of confirmed and suspected Ebola deaths has increased to eight and health workers have listed at least 43 contacts of the victims, according to the latest government update.
In a situation report issued yesterday, the Ministry of Health revealed that 11 suspected cases have been isolated at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, the facility where the confirmed index fatality and probable victims who died, received treatment.
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson of the Health ministry, told this publication that contact tracing is ongoing to curb transmission.
“We have mapped out up to about 10 districts, Kampala inclusive, where we have dispatched our rapid response teams to orient the various districts on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We have isolated 11 suspected cases and from them we have drawn samples and sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) [for testing for EVD],” he said.
On Wednesday, another person, a one-year-old baby, died at Mubende hospital after presenting Ebola-like symptoms.
“The sample has been taken to UVRI and we are waiting for the test results. We are doing risk communication, orientation of health workers in the isolation units and also reactivating all the district taskforces in 10 districts surrounding Mubende, including Kampala,” Mr Ainebyoona added.
By press time, unconfirmed reports suggested another woman died in the district, bringing cumulative confirmed and suspected Ebola deaths to nine.
A highly-placed source familiar with the response said they had been briefed that a second Ebola infection was confirmed, but it will likely be announced today.
On Tuesday, this newspaper broke the story of EVD outbreak ahead of the government’s confirmation.
In yesterday’s situation report, the Health ministry placed the total of suspected cases and deaths at 18, majority being of the victims being women and children and one enrolled nurse.
Asked about the preparedness to handle increasing cases, Mr Ainebyoona said they have an isolation unit already constructed at Mulago National Referral Hospital in addition to another in Entebbe.
The Ebola Incident Management Team (IMT) was reportedly conducting an assessment of the isolation unit and identifying needs in Mubende Hospital.
This is in addition to deploying “national level technical support to establish triage and care, triage at health facility level and functionalise the Kampala isolation units in Mulago, Naguru and Entebbe Hospitals”.
Dr Rosemary Byanyima, the acting executive director of Mulago National Referral Hospital, yesterday said the facility is on high alert and ready to handle cases.
“We have put our entry points on alert, especially the medical emergency and acute care unit. Normally, when we get any suspected case, we put the patient aside and call those response teams, who take samples and test, to confirm whether the patient is having such infectious diseases like Ebola,” she said.
She added: “It is not that every cases will be referred here. We work with the response team. We have isolation unit for suspected cases and also providing protective gears for the health workers…we are making sure the health workers are on high alert.”
Dr Henry Kyobe, an epidemiologist at the Health ministry and incident commander, said they still have a lot to find out about the cause of the outbreak and the extent of the spread.
“Remember, we are within 48 hours of confirmation. There is still a lot that we need to know. We need to piece together many things so [that] we know the extent of the issue [and] the geographical distribution so that we can be able to combat it,” he said.
According to the Health Ministry, EVD is transmitted through contact with the blood, stool or fluids of an infected person and objects that have been contaminated with body fluids from an infected person.
One can also contract the disease through contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats and other wild animals.
The known symptoms of Ebola include high body temperatures, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, unexplained bleeding, yellowing of the eyes. Bleeding is usually a late presentation after the above symptoms, according to the Health Ministry.