‘Truly frightening’: Deadly Ebola spreads

By | June 12, 2019

A five-year-old boy who tested positive for Ebola in Uganda has died, a health ministry official revealed on Wednesday, after a deadly outbreak spread from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The boy who tested positive for Ebola in Kasese yesterday passed on last night in the isolation unit,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The minister for health (Ruth Aceng) will be briefing the country about the death of the boy and arrangements to bury the body.”

The official said the child was likely to be buried on Wednesday, as the World Health Organisation called an emergency meeting to determine whether the outbreak should officially be declared a “public health emergency of international concern.”

The WHO has only declared a public health emergency four times in its history.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said in a statement: “This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

“We can expect and should plan for more cases in DRC and neighbouring countries.”

The WHO confirmed on Tuesday that the boy, who was vomiting blood, was the first patient found to have Ebola outside Congo since the outbreak began in August.

Uganda’s health ministry on Tuesday said that the mother of the child was a Congolese citizen married to a Ugandan. She had travelled with the child and four other family members back home to nurse her father who eventually died from the flesh-eating virus.

Health minister Ruth Aceng said two more Ebola cases in Uganda had now been confirmed.

Uganda has been on high alert since the outbreak across a porous border in the eastern DRC, where more than 2000 cases of the highly contagious virus have been recorded, two-thirds of which have been fatal.

Nearly 1400 people have died in what has become the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

Experts have long feared Ebola could spread to neighbouring countries because of rebel attacks and community resistance hampering virus containment work in eastern Congo, one of the world’s most turbulent regions.

The virus can spread quickly via contact with bodily fluids of those infected and can be fatal in up to 90 per cent of cases.

Ugandan health teams “are not panicking,” Henry Mwebesa, a physician and the national director of health services, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. He cited the country’s experience battling previous outbreaks of Ebola and other haemorrhagic fevers.

“We have all the contingencies to contain this case,” Mr Mwebesa said. “It is not going to go beyond” the patient’s family.

Two family members were being tested for Ebola after developing symptoms, with results expected on Wednesday. The Congolese family are thought to have entered Uganda after bypassing official border points, where health workers screen all travellers for a high temperature and isolate those who show signs of illness.

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