Can Uganda use the COVID-19 experience to contain the spread of Ebola Virus ?

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With the memory of the damages caused by COVID-19 pandemic on the economy still fresh in Uganda, on September 20th an Ebola outbreak was declared in the central districts of Mubende and Kassanda. More than a month after the outbreak, infections continue to climb and this has raised concerns from both the government and the International community.

The Kampala Metropolitan business area is vulnerable due to high population and as the Ebola cases are on the rise. However, the government is still reluctant on imposing lockdown because of the Covid-19 lockdown impacts on the economy. This has attracted several opinions on the possibility of lockdown from both the political community and the general public.

Even though Ugandans are worried about Ebola, a lockdown would be unpopular considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. People are already struggling with the aftermath of the pandemic especially rising fuel and food costs, they cannot afford to suffer another lockdown.

On record Uganda endured close to two years lockdown, one of the longest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in the world just one year above Melbourne Australia and Argentina. As a result, we registered the least death cases in the Greats lakes region.

Now, can Uganda use the Covid-19 pandemic experience to stop the further spread of Ebola Virus? This is very possible if all the stakeholders involved in the Health sector including the populace have fulfilled their duties and responsibilities.

Government should sensitize the masses to observe the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as recommended by WHO. These include among others;

  • Frequent hand washing with clean water and soap.
  • Use of hand sanitizer.
  • Wearing of face mask.
  • Reporting to the nearest health facility any Ebola suspected case.

Where possible, our exposure to crowds including markets and other areas where large numbers of people congregate can be limited to whenever it’s necessary.

Avoid contact with animals and items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids. As well as sensitizing people on the risks of exhuming bodies of people who died of Ebola to perform cultural and religious rituals.

This is the fifth time that Uganda has experienced an Ebola outbreak since the turn of this century. The first and most devastating was in 2000 which claimed more than 200 people others occurring in 2014, 2017, 2018 and the recent one but we have managed to contain all the situations.

According to reports from the Ministry of health, so far the confirmed Ebola cases stands at 130 and the death toll at 45 including 8 medical workers who contracted the virus from patients they were treating.

As we remember and celebrate Dr. Mathew Lukwiya (late) for his outstanding fight against Ebola, government should also equip the health sector in order to develop the capacity of handling pandemics.

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