BY JOHN ODYEK
Uganda's ministry of health has expressed confidence that the deadly ebola virus is no longer a threat saying 'the threat of any emerging outbreak of ebola is negligible'.
"The country is currently in a post ebola surveillance phase which continuously monitors the situation to ensure that the Ebola transmission cycle has been broken and that there is no likelihood of occurrence of any new cases" Dr. D. K. W. Lwamafa, acting director general of health services said on Friday in a statement.
The ministry of health said 17 people have died from the ebola disease including a clinical officer in Kibale district. While five patients were cured. It stated that over 400 patients who came in contact with ebola and were admitted and monitored have been discharged.
The ministry assured the public that the country is safe for all people including foreigners intending to travel in and out of the country.
"There is currently no travel ban in any part of the country, including Kibaale district which was the epi-centre of the outbreak. The ban earlier put in place against holding public rallies and shaking of hands in Kibaale district was finally lifted after it was confirmed that the risk of transmission was no longer a public health threat," Lwamafa said.
Lwamafa said the post ebola surveillance countdown period is a requirement of the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria which entails any affected country to monitor the ebola situation for a period of 42 days after the last discharged patient case before finally declaring that the outbreak is over.
Lwamafa said the last patient in Kibaale was allowed to go home on 24th August 2012. He added that this therefore means that Uganda will finally be declared Ebola free on October 4th 2012.
The ministry cautions that while the period of active infection is over, the country continues to monitor the situation to ensure that there is no risk of yet another outbreak.
All the structures previously set up to contain the outbreak are still operational to combat any potential risks. The trained health workers are still actively watching the situation, the laboratory system at the Uganda Virus Research institute is still operational while the national and district taskforces are all on the alert to watch out for any emerging threats.
The isolation facility set up to accommodate confirmed cases has been transformed into a permanent structure at Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale district. The Ministry of Health surveillance team is currently stationed in Arua district to monitor the Ebola situation on the Congo side of the border.
The ministry reassures the public that everything is under control to ensure that the outbreak is finally contained and declared over in the near future.