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Muslims warned not to wash the dead over Ebola

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th December 2007 03:00 AM

THE Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) has warned Muslims not to wash bodies of people who die in areas suspected to have Ebola. This is one of the measures to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreak in Bundibugyo district.

THE Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) has warned Muslims not to wash bodies of people who die in areas suspected to have Ebola. This is one of the measures to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreak in Bundibugyo district.

By Vision Reporters
THE Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) has warned Muslims not to wash bodies of people who die in areas suspected to have Ebola. This is one of the measures to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreak in Bundibugyo district.

The disease is spread through contact with body fluids of an infected person.
The Ministry of Health put the death toll by yesterday at 29 in Bundibugyo and 113 infected. The move by UMSC followed a request by the Ministry of Health to suspend their religious ritual.

UMSC spokesman Hajji Nsereko Mutumba said: “Much as the Koran tells us to bury bodies which are clean, it discourages people from committing suicide. Washing an Ebola victim would mean one is committing suicide.”

He asked Muslims in Ebola areas to stop sharing containers in which they carry water for ablution before they pray.
A new suspected Ebola case was admitted at Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale district yesterday.

The 42-year-old Special Police Constable attached to Sunga Police Station, had bloody diarrhoea, vomited, had a high fever, headache and complained of abdominal pain.

The head of the Ebola task force in Kibaale, Dr. Isaac Kakibogo, said blood samples from the man would be tested in Entebbe.

As soon as the man was admitted, over 20 other patients fled. Patients left the hospital with drips still attached to their hands and held up by relatives. Even the people who brought the patient and some health workers fled. Private clinics in Kagadi filled up with patients who had run away from the hospital.

Dr. Kakibogo said the hospital did not have enough protective gear and had neither running water nor electricity. He said he was worried that if other cases came in, they may abandon their work.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health yesterday cleared Gulu, Kanungu, Masaka and Mbale districts, which had earlier been suspected to have Ebola cases.

According to the Commissioner of Health Services, Dr. Sam Okware, the woman who died in Mbale, Olivia Mukiite, had pregnancy complications, nort Ebola. He said samples from Kanungu, Gulu and Masaka revealed other diseases unrelated to Ebola.

Doctors in Mbale yesterday said Mukiite’s relatives were free to exhume the body for reburial at their ancestral home.
Mbale Hospital superintendent, Dr. Vincent Ojome, however, cautioned people to take more precautions this Christmas season.

The ministry has put 10 other districts on Ebola alert. Tests on samples collected from patients in Kampala, Adjumani, Kasese, Mubende, Mbarara, Kasese and Kabarole are expected today.

In Bundibugyo, Dr. Richard Ssessanga, the Bundibugyo Hospital superintendent, was discharged and is recuperating. Two other patients, including a nursing officer, Ezekiel Kisughu, were also discharged from the hospital.
Nineteen Ebola patients are still in Bundibugyo Hospital, while 13 are in Kikyo health centre.

The Uganda Red Cross said its team of 100 health workers was monitoring 435 people in Bundibugyo who had contact with victims of Ebola. The Red Cross has also equipped the World Health Organisation and the health ministry with communication handsets.

The ministry has warned the public, especially in Bundibugyo and the surrounding districts of Hoima, Kibale, Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge, Ibanda, Bushenyi and Mbarara, to avoid unnecessary movements and gatherings.

Medical staff in Kabarole district said yesterday blood samples from 19 Ebola suspects and their contacts were taken to the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe for testing. Results are expected today.

Some of the suspects had fled Kichwamba when irate villagers attacked an isolation centre there, breaking its doors and windows. The villagers were protesting the location of the center in their village.

Other samples were taken from inmates of Katojo Prison who had been isolated and admitted to Buhinga Hospital.
Health workers said they were receiving calls from Kichwamba informing them of suspected cases but the villagers feared leading them to the patients. He said the people were scared of the wrath of fellow villagers.

The workers said they needed more food to feed the patients so as to minimise contact with relatives. In Kampala, Mulago Hospital has formed a task force to handle Ebola cases. The hospital management, however, said Dr. Jonah Kule, who has since died, was the only Ebola patient there.

Dr. Banterana Byarugaba, who is experienced in handling emergencies, heads the Mulago Ebola task force. He has previously headed task forces for deadly outbreaks such as the recent cholera outbreak in the city. The Mulago taskforce works closely with Kampala City Council.

By Anne Mugisa, Madinah Tebajjukira, Chris Kiwawulo, Ismael Kasooha, Mary Karugaba and Nathan Etengu

Muslims warned not to wash the dead over Ebola

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