By Taddeo Bwambale
GOVERNMENT has stepped up screening services at all border points to prevent an outbreak of Ebola virus disease that has killed over 1,415 people in West Africa since March this year.
At Entebbe Airport, a medical centre has been set up to offer counselling and clinical screening for all suspected cases, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the director general of health services revealed.
A standby ambulance, complete with a driver and protective gear have been provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to aid rapid management of cases.
The new measures follow several alerts about suspected Ebola cases in the country, all which have since turned out negative.
In the most recent scare, a 21-year-old Nigerian student was quarantined at Entebbe Airport on Saturday but tests found her free from Ebola.
“There is no confirmed case of Ebola in the country. All alerts and suspected cases have tested negative of the deadly Ebola virus,” Aceng said.
She disclosed that samples taken from the patient had shown that she suffered from Malaria. The student, whose identity was not revealed, presented with vomiting, headache and fever.
She was travelling from Nigeria to Uganda aboard a Kenya Airways flight and had a connecting flight through Liberia.
She is the fourth suspected case quarantined at Entebbe Airport to have tested negative for Ebola. A total of 6,840 travellers have been screened at the Airport Since July 11.
Aceng said Government was reinforcing its screening services at the Airport to cope with the high number of passengers. The number of passengers using Entebbe Airport rose from 1.2 million in 2012 to 1.5 million in 2013.
“The screening services will continue to target passengers from the West African Ebola ravaged countries either coming in directly or through connecting flights from the neighbouring countries of Kenya and Ethiopia,” Aceng said.
Ebola is a highly contagious disease spread by contact with an infected person's bodily fluids such as sweat and blood. It has no cure and only supportive care is given to patients.
In Uganda, the last Ebola outbreak was in 2012 and it claimed at least four people. The worst outbreak occurred in 2000 when it killed 224 people.
According to Aceng, an isolation facility at Entebbe Grade B Hospital has also been equipped with health and medical supplies and is ready to receive and attend to any suspected case.
The health ministry has directed all health centres to conduct orientation trainings on Ebola clinical presentation and infection control and procedures for putting on protective wears.
Among other measures, all districts have reactivated their district task forces in preparations for any possible outbreak. These taskforces are assigned to help to identify cases, designate isolation facilities, re-orient staff on Ebola case definition and revive infection control measures.
All health workers have also been directed to strictly observe standard infection prevention and control measures in all health facilities.
Uganda steps up surveillance after Ebola scare