Uganda has heightened Ebola surveillance and prevention preparedness amid fears that the general election in the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo could lead to a refugee influx.
Government officials said such an influx refugee influx in the post-election period, could trigger cross-border Ebola outbreaks in the neighbouring countries, especially Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
“Cognisant of the fact that there may be post-election unrest, we are increasing our capacity to screen more people,” said the Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng.
Dr Aceng said that the polls increase the likelihood of people moving together in groups, which in turn raises the probability of spreading the haemorrhagic fever.
Dr Aceng said that Uganda is investing in more thermometers and walk-through screens to hasten the screening process.
Uganda currently has 24 screening points, including one at Entebbe Airport. The rest are located in five districts in the southwest.
Information from the World Health Organisation shows that 2.3 million people from the DRC entering Uganda had been screened by December 2018.
The majority went through the land borders in western Uganda while at Entebbe only 74,200 people were screened.
Dr Yonas Tegegn, WHO representative in Uganda, said that even as the screening, surveillance and preparation of isolation and treatment centres for Ebola are being done for all of the nine neighbours of DRC, the highest emphasis is on the three in the east— Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda.
Uganda has so far vaccinated 2,260 health workers in the 20 high-risk districts and 600 more Ebola vaccine doses are yet to be used.
The high risk districts include those at the border and refugee hosting ones like Kamwenge, Kampala and Wakiso.
With the government expecting 3,000 more vaccine doses, the number of frontline health workers inoculated against Ebola will be close to 6,000.
These efforts have cost Uganda, Ush69.8 billion ($19 million) since the outbreak was announced in August.
In the event of even a single Ebola case crossing into Uganda, Dr Aceng says that the country will carry out a ring vaccination of people who might have had contact with the patient.
Dr Miriam Nanyunja, disease prevention and control advisor at the WHO said that the case fatality rate for the ongoing DRC outbreak stands at 59 per cent. This is quite high compared with other outbreaks like that in West Africa that had a 40 per cent case fatality rate, despite the fact that the vaccine was available mid-way.
According to data from WHO, in 2007, Uganda registered the lowest Ebola case fatality rate of 24 per cent.
Dr Tegegn said that the outbreak has been hard to control because it is affecting areas occupied by the Allied Democratic Forces and Mai Mai militia, which block access to patients in their territories.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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