EBOLA: Uganda Worried Over Pilgrims From DR Congo

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The Joint Operations Command-JOC and the Health Ministry will keep a close eye on pilgrims from the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC entering Uganda for the Martyr’s day celebrations for health and security reasons, URN has learnt.

Although there is continuous surveillance and screening at different entry points like Entebbe airport and gazzeted borders, the Health Ministry, says it is difficult to do the same given porous border between Uganda and DRC. There is a confirmed outbreak of Ebola in DRC.

Dr. John Baptist Wanianye, the Commissioner Emergencies Medical Services, says there are chances that individuals infected with Ebola in its first stages could cross into the country as pilgrims, which calls for close monitoring.

Dr. Wanianye says Ministry plans to deploy technical staff from its emergency department and health teams at Namugongo Martyr’s shrine to attend to emergencies.

He says they have secured emergency kits including protective gears and equipment to handle any suspicious cases.

Besides Ebola, the Uganda Martyr’s Day preparation medical subcommittee report is concerned about the cholera scare. However, the health ministry says the epidemic has been contained.

Dr. Marai Gorreti Bisikwa, a member of the Namugongo Medical Committee, says there is continuous surveillance, sensitization on preventive measures like hand washing, drinking boiled water, eating hot food and proper disposal of human waste among others at the shrines.

She says the medical team will be keen on pilgrims with signs and symptoms like watery diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration among others. Meanwhile, Denis Namuwoza, Kampala Metropolitan Police Deputy Commander also told the committee on Wednesday that Joint Operations Command has taken keen interest in pilgrims from DRC.

He asked the committee to provide the expected number of foreign pilgrims, more so from the DRC their arrival dates and where they intend to stay.

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