The East African Community (EAC) urged its member countries to step up their defenses amid growing risks posed by the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in Uganda, reported The CGTN Africa.
In a statement on Thursday, the 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, Tanzania and Uganda.
According to the Ugandan health authorities, a total of 36 cases, including 24 confirmed and suspected deaths, have been detected so far in the latest Ebola outbreak caused by the virus’ relatively rare Sudan strain. The outbreak was first detected in Mubende, a district in central Uganda, and has since spread to many other districts.
The EAC urged its member countries to increase 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 in order to enhance quick 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.
On Wednesday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni ruled out possibilities of imposing a lockdown to contain spread of the highly contagious Ebola virus. He said there is no need to impose restrictions because the viral disease is not airborne. The president also assured that the country had the capacity to contain the outbreak due to previous experience with similar outbreaks.