Govt explains delays in releasing Ebola results

Health workers walk out of an Ebola isolation ward in Western Uganda in 2007.PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The delays in releasing results, besides causing anxiety to families, also affect response actions such as contact tracing, which is essential in minimising the spread of the disease.

The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has said results for the suspected case of Ebola death in the city will be released today, three days after samples were reportedly taken for testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).

Dr Daniel Okello, the head of public health services at KCCA, without revealing where the patient died from, told Monitor that the deceased’s body is “somewhere where it is safe” .

“It was a death in a facility,” he said in a brief interview. The death reportedly occurred in Kansanga, a about five kilometres away from the city centre. 

Asked why results had delayed, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson of the Health ministry, said the problem has been in the transportation to UVRI. 

“The turnaround time for the results is around one day. But we shall see how we can decentralise the testing.

These are the early days of the outbreak so we are working to ensure that the result turnaround time is reduced,” he said. 

The distance from Kansanga to Entebbe where the UVRI is located is 37 kilometres. But the majority of the samples are coming from Mubende and neighbouring districts, the epicentre. 

The delays in releasing results, besides causing anxiety to families, also affect response actions such as contact tracing, which is essential in minimising the spread of the disease.

According to the Health ministry, there were 31 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola as of Saturday, and the total number of confirmed and suspected Ebola deaths stands at 19, signalling an increase.

Dr Julius Lutwama, the UVRI virologist, told this publication that they are testing the samples using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine which takes a short to give out results. 

“Normally a PCR result comes out after about six hours. But we also do antigen and antibody Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)s, which may take 24 hours,” he said.

He added: “If a sample from the mouth or the heart is taken from the dead person and brought to UVRI it will take the same time.”

ELISA is a technology used in modern laboratories to detect antibodies (a protein that fights off infection) in the blood.  
 

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