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Ministry of health hires 10 foreign experts to handle Marburg outbreak

By Julius Odeke

Ministry of Health and its partners have hired ten technical experts to handle and contain the spread of Marburg cases in the identified districts.

The ministry of health says the death toll of both the probable and confirmed cases stands at eight, with the latest being a case that died at the isolation facility at Rushoroza Health Centre III on October 27.

The Minister Dr Christine Ondoa clarified that since the onset of the outbreak, her ministry has collected a total of 45 samples of which nine were confirmed positive; five in Kabale, two in Kampala and two from Ibanda.

She says that working closely with the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whereby the ministry has set up a field diagnostic laboratory at Kabale Regional Referral Hospital. “All samples from the affected neighbouring districts will hence be taken to this laboratory for quick diagnostics. This will shorten the time when we get results to three hours from the original 24 hours due to distance. Further serological testing will be undertaken at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI),” Ondoa said.

Dr Ondoa says due to the presence of cases in other districts, the ministry of health has established temporary isolation facilities to accommodate the suspected and confirmed cases. In Ibanda, a temporary isolation ward has been created at Ibanda Hospital, while plans are underway to set up a proper isolation facility by tomorrow.

She says at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, a separate temporary has been designated for he suspect Marburg cases. A triage has also been set up at the causality ward.

We have assembled a team of experts to work in the newly established isolation facilities and they are expected in these districts today.  We also plan to undertake infection control procedures in these facilities as safety measures for the workers and the admitted patients.

Dr Ondoa says there are seven suspect cases (student nurses) quarantined at Ibanda. These cases attended to the confirmed case that later died at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital on October 24. Other health workers who attended to the patient are closely being monitored.

Dr Ondoa dispelled rumours that, “Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, the head of the Mental Health Unit Division, had contracted Marburg and had been isolated. Dr. Ndyanabangi has not been isolated but has been advised to exercise social distancing. She is one of the contacts who are being monitored. She has not developed any signs or symptoms of the disease and therefore cannot be isolated from the community. She is due to complete the 21 days of observation.”

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