Uganda has banned public gatherings in western Kasese district as officials attempt to contain an Ebola outbreak which has killed two people in the country days after the virus spread from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Emmanuel Ainebyona, a Health Ministry spokesman, confirmed the move on Thursday hours after officials declared that a 50-year-old Congolese woman had become the second patient to die of the disease in Uganda.
Her five-year-old grandson was the first confirmed Ebola death in Uganda. The boy’s three-year-old brother is also infected and is currently undergoing treatment.
The three individuals were part of a family group that travelled to DRC to care for a relative, who also died of Ebola, before returning to Uganda.
The infections marked the first confirmed cross-border cases of the virus in the current epidemic, which was previously confined to the eastern DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces after emerging 10 months ago.
More than 2,000 cases have been recorded in the DRC since the start of the outbreak in August, the country’s 10th to date, and more than 1,400 people have died.
An expert World Health Organization (WHO) committee will convene in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday to weigh whether to declare the epidemic a global health emergency following its spread into Uganda. Such declarations almost always boost global attention and lead to an increase in aid.
Two previous WHO emergency meetings decided the outbreak was not yet fit for a declaration of global emergency despite being of “deep concern”.
Sources: Al Jazeera, news agencies