Uganda, at high risk for Ebola, starts vaccinating medics

A healthcare worker from the World Health Organisation gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker

A healthcare worker from the World Health Organisation gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker

Vaccinations of front line healthcare workers have begun in Uganda to stop an outbreak of the Ebola virus, officials said Wednesday.

The latest Ebola outbreak that was declared August 1 is the first to occur in Congo's far northeast, where multiple rebel groups are active.

It is highly likely that Uganda may import EVD from DRC given the closeness of the current epicenter, the high population movements due to trade, social-cultural connections and easy accessibility of health services in Uganda.

In recent months Ebola cases have been confirmed near the heavily traveled border between Uganda and Congo, where an outbreak in that country's northeast has killed 189 people.

It said the risk of the outbreak spreading to other provinces and neighboring countries remains high.

The spread of Ebola in the DRC is worsened by an ongoing civil war between militant groups and government forces.

The daily rate of new Ebola cases more than doubled in early October.

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, said only healthcare and frontline workers in the five high risk border districts who are prone to infection with the virus will receive the rVSV vaccine, starting today.

An estimated 60 to 80 per cent of new confirmed cases have no known epidemiological link to prior cases, making it very hard for responders to track cases and stop transmission.

UN Peacekeeping, WHO chiefs praise courage of Ebola responders, at epicentre of outbreakBoth WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix were in the epicentre of the outbreak area on Wednesday, Beni, in DRCs North Kivu district. More than 26,000 people in the DRC have been inoculated in a "ring vaccination" policy in which those who have been in contact with an Ebola patient are vaccinated.

When contact tracing begins to fall apart, "then you are entering another phase and losing the hope that you can arrest the outbreak through standard interventions", said J Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

"The vaccine is highly potent and it will protect workers effectively, " Woldemariam said.

Mr Lacroix said that health workers in the affected zones do crucial work amidst a hard security environment and that the UN Mission in the country (MONUSCO) is actively supporting the Government to improve security.

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