Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

First Ebola case outside the DR Congo confirmed


A staffer stands at an Ebola screening checkpoint where people crossing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have their hands and feet washed with a chlorine solution at the Bunagana border crossing in Uganda on Monday.

Photo: AP / International Rescue Committee

A child in Uganda has tested positive for Ebola in the first cross-border case of the deadly virus since an outbreak started in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) last year, the Ugandan Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

The five-year-old boy has been isolated with family members at a hospital in a district near the DR Congo border, Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Aceng told reporters.

Two family members were being tested for Ebola after developing symptoms, with results expected yesterday.

The announcement puts new pressure on the WHO to declare the Ebola outbreak a global health emergency.

The outbreak is unfolding amid unprecedented challenges of rebel attacks and community resistance in a region that had never experienced Ebola before.

In April a WHO expert committee decided that the outbreak, while of “deep concern,” was not yet a global health emergency, but international spread is one of the major criteria the agency considers before such a declaration.

It was not immediately clear when the boy entered Uganda. A WHO statement said that he entered on Sunday.

Confirmation of Ebola was made on Tuesday by the Uganda Virus Institute.

“The Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a rapid response team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk,” the WHO said.

The Congolese Ministry of Public Health in a statement said that the boy arrived on Monday at Congo’s Kasindi border post.

There, a dozen family members appeared to have symptoms and were transferred to an isolation center at the local hospital for observation.

Six family members then broke away while being transferred to an Ebola treatment center in Beni and crossed into Uganda while Congolese border officials alerted their Ugandan colleagues, it added.

Ugandan officials found the family members at the Kagando hospital, where the boy’s Ebola case was confirmed.

Officials from the two nations were to meet yesterday about the possibility of sending the family back to Beni for treatment, the Congolese ministry said.

It was not immediately clear how the family members were able to cross the border, where millions of travelers have been screened for Ebola since the outbreak began.

There have been more than 2,000 confirmed and probable cases of the Ebola virus in the DR Congo since August last year, with nearly 1,400 deaths.

For the first time an experimental, but effective Ebola vaccine is being widely used, with more than 130,000 doses distributed.

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