How Ebola victim moved from Mubende to Kampala

Ministry of Health Ebola response team during the burial of one of the virus victims recently. The Health ministry yesterday confirmed the first case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) death in Kampala. PHOTO | FILE

The Health ministry on Tuesday confirmed the first case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) death in Kampala, weeks after the outbreak was confirmed in Mubende, a district 130 kilometres away. 

According to information from the Health ministry and members of the Ebola taskforce, the deceased escaped from Mubende about a week ago and went to Luweero District. He later went Natete in Kampala. 

On October 6, he was taken to Kiruddu Hospital where he died on October 7. He was buried in Mubende.

“This gentleman was a contact who was listed but run away to seek treatment from a traditional healer. When it didn’t work, he requested to be brought to Kiruddu hospital,” the Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, said yesterday in Entebbe.

Dr Aceng added that the man changed his name to avoid being arrested. She said the ministry only got to learn that he was the escapee when he was taken back for burial in Mubende.

“The leaders in Mubende intercepted the team that had taken the body and identified the man as the one who was on our list, a sample confirmed that he had Ebola,” she said.

Ms Rosemary Byabashaija, the Mubende Resident District Commissioner (RDC), who heads the district’s Ebola taskforce, said between the months of September and October seven people from the man’s family have died from Ebola-like symptoms. Some were confirmed to have died of Ebola.

She added that members of the family don’t want to go to the hospital.  

Fifteen people from the same family have been taken into forced isolation after resisting and attacking the Ebola surveillance and burial team.

 “It is unfortunate that some communities fail to report the cases while the patients are still alive but report the deaths,” she said.

The ministry said confirmed cases have increased to 54 while cumulative confirmed deaths have risen to 19. Up to 20 people have recovered from the deadly disease while those admitted stand at 14, according to the ministry. 

At least 42 contacts of the victim in Kiruddu, Mubende District have been listed including 10 health workers, according to Dr Aceng and information sources in the government.

Attempts to get comments from the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) authority on the actions being taken to mitigate the spread were futile by press time.

Dr Daniel Okello, the director of Public Health, neither answered our calls nor replied to our text messages while Mr Simon Peter Kasyate, the KCCA head of public and corporate affairs, declined to give a comment. 

Another senior medical official at KCCA, told this newspaper: “I have all the information you need but we have been instructed not to give out any information about Ebola in Kampala. We are already doing contact tracing.”

When asked about the incident and how the hospital is handling it, Dr Charles Kabugo, the head of Kiruddu hospital referred our reporter to the Health ministry. 

The information about the detection of the first case of Ebola comes a few days after the Permanent Secretary of the Health ministry, Dr Diana Atwine, said in a statement that the other parts of the country, Kampala inclusive, are safe and free from Ebola. 

Dr Atwine had said the government has managed to limit the spread of the virus to five districts and the fight is underway to bring the epidemic to an end. 

“Are we worried that another case may appear in Kampala? Yes, that is why we keep on alert because we know any time someone may appear,” Dr Aceng said. 

Ms Aceng said the ministry has not and will not restrict or close activities in Kampala City. President Museveni is expected to address the country today.  

Compiled by Tonny Abet, Paul Adude & Daniel Wandera