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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Uganda isolates suspected Ebola case
at Entebbe International Airport

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- A passenger travelling from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) en-route to Kenya has been isolated at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport, as Ebola tests are carried out.

Sarah Opendi, Uganda’s minister of state in charge of general duties, told Xinhua by telephone on Saturday that although the male passenger has not developed other Ebola signs, he has got a fever and high temperature.

“He is now in an isolation ward at Entebbe hospital. Blood samples have been taken to the Uganda Virus Research Institute,” Opendi said.

She said available information shows that the passenger lost his wife three weeks ago, although the cause of death is not yet known.

Opendi said medical officers at the airport are screening all passengers coming into the country especially those from neighboring DRC.

DRC authorities on May 8 declared an outbreak of Ebola in the western border town of Bikoro.

The government on Thursday night confirmed 11 cases and one death.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding.

Mortality rates of Ebola fever, according to the World Health Organization, are extremely high, with the human case-fatality rate ranging from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on viral sub-type.

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UPDATES:

Kenya intensifies Ebola screening to curb outbreak

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Health Ministry said on Friday that it has intensified border surveillance to prevent an outbreak of Ebola disease in the country.

Sicily Kariuki, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, said the government has deployed 100 medical experts at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the main port of entry to screen and test travelers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and a further 160 on standby for any eventuality.

“We have also deployed medical personnel to conduct screening along the Busia and Malaba border posts with Uganda,” Kariuki said at a joint news conference in Nairobi.

The move by the East Africa nation follows an Ebola outbreak in the DRC last week.

Kariuki revealed that all travelers from DRC are being screened at an emergency clinic that has been set up at the airport.

“We are taking a precaution against any eventually and Kenyans should not worry much,” she said.

Kariuki also announced the formation of a National Health Emergencies Council that will permanently engage in monitoring and prevention of the spread of the deadly diseases in the country.

Najib Balala, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary said the outbreak has not affected tourists from West Africa from visiting Kenya.

Balala revealed that the highest number of tourists from the region come from Nigeria, a country that is not affected by the outbreak. He said that Kenya mainly receive traders from DRC, with a pocket of tourists.

“We have a functioning clinic and an ambulance at the airport ready for any emergency,” Balala said, noting that the government

The DRC government last week announced an outbreak of the Ebola fever in Bikoro in the North Western Equatorial region.

The new Ebola cases were identified on May 1 in a remote area of the country’s north-west, near the town of Bikoro, near the Congo River.

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Burundi on high alert following Ebola outbreak in DRC

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Burundi is on high alert to counter the Ebola virus disease following its outbreak in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Burundian health minister said here on Friday.

Burundian Public Health and AIDS Control Minister Thaddee Ndikumana told a press conference that until now, no Ebola virus case has been reported on the Burundian territory.

The surveillance system of diseases with epidemic characteristics is on high alert, he added.

The minister said the Burundian government will closely collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners in order to boost the east African country’s surveillance system and appropriate preventive measures.

The DRC government on Thursday confirmed 11 cases of Ebola and one death.

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Ethiopia on high alert following Ebola outbreak in DRC

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government said Saturday that it is on high alert to counter the Ebola virus disease following an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this week.

According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, inspections are being carried out in major international airports as well as border areas to prevent the deadly virus from entering the country.

The ministry said clinics and hospitals across the East African country have been provided with necessary equipment to treat suspected Ebola cases, and training is being provided to strengthen response capabilities.

A new Ebola outbreak was declared on Tuesday by the DRC government, after two samples tested positive in Bikoro, Equateur Province.

The African Union (AU) has announced that the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has activitated an emergency operation to support the DRC’s fight with the new Ebola outbreak.

The Africa CDC has mobilized its epidemic response team (ERT) for imminent deployment. The team includes experts with previous experience in responding to Ebola outbreaks in West Africa in 2014 and in the DRC in 2017, the AU said in a statement.

Ethiopia had previously sent a medical team, comprising close to 200 health workers, to West African to bolster the Ebola disease response in 2014.

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WHO alerts latest Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday that stopping the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) will be a serious, tough and costly challenge, which requires preparedness for all scenarios.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is scheduled to travel to DR Congo over the weekend to take stock of the situation and direct the continuing response in support of the national health authorities.

“WHO staff were in the team that first identified the outbreak. I myself am on my way to the DRC to assess the needs first-hand,” said Dr. Tedros.

“I’m in contact in the Minister of health and have assured him that we’re ready to do all that’s needed to stop the spread of Ebola quickly.

"We are working with our partners to send more staff, equipment and supplies to the area.”

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro health zone, Equateur Province, was declared four days ago.

The location is 250 km from Mbandaka, capital of Equateur Province in an area of the country that is that is very hard to reach.

As of Friday, 34 Ebola cases have been reported in the area in the past five weeks, including two confirmed, 18 probable (deceased) and 14 suspected cases.

Five samples were collected from five patients and two have been confirmed by the laboratory.

“This is the country’s ninth Ebola outbreak and there is considerable expertise in-country,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “However, any country facing such a threat may require international assistance.”

The current response plan to the outbreak includes -

surveillance, case investigation, and contact tracing; community engagement and social mobilization; case management and infection prevention and control; safe and dignified burials; research response including the use of ring vaccination and antivirals; and coordination and operations support.

“It is too early to judge the extent of this outbreak,” said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general for Emergency Preparedness and Response.

“However, early signs including the infection of three health workers, the geographical extent of the outbreak, the proximity to transport routes and population centers, and the number of suspected cases indicate that stopping this outbreak will be a serious challenge.

"This will be tough and it will be costly. We need to be prepared for all scenarios,” he added.

For now the WHO has listed the risks to surrounding countries as moderate, and has already alerted those countries and is working with them on border surveillance and preparedness for potential outbreaks.

The WHO, however, does not at this time advise any restrictions on travel and trade to DR Congo.

The Ebola epidemic hit Africa between late 2013 and 2016, causing more than 11,000 deaths in nearly 30,000 cases, according to UN statistics.
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FURTHER READING:

At least 18 people have died in connection to Ebola virus in western Democratic Republic of Congo

             

 

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