East African countries enhance emergency preparedness to combat Ebola
Countries in East Africa are expected to bolster their defenses amid growing risks posed by a burgeoning Ebola virus outbreak in Uganda.
In a statement on Thursday, the East African Community (EAC) called on its seven members “to enhance emergency preparedness and response activities.”
The seven EAC members are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.
A total of 36 cases, including 24 confirmed and suspected deaths, have been detected since last week in the latest Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
Mubende, a district in central Uganda, remains the epicenter of the outbreak caused by the virus’ relatively rare Sudan strain.
The EAC said countries should “enhance surveillance and laboratory testing, especially at border areas … implement appropriate infection prevention and control measures, and increase risk communication and community awareness of the disease.”
It also advised them “to consider the deployment of the EAC mobile laboratories to the strategic outbreak hotspots and at the various border points … (to) enhance screening of suspected cases.”
There have been seven previous outbreaks caused by the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus – four in Uganda and three in Sudan.
According to the World Health Organization, the Sudan strain has been found in Uganda for the first time in more than a decade, while the last outbreak in 2019 was caused by the Zaire strain.
The agency has dispatched supplies to support the care of patients and is sending a specialized tent that will be used to isolate patients.
While ring vaccination of high-risk people with Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has been highly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in DRC and elsewhere, said WHO, this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire strain.