Business as usual in Busia as Ebola spreads

Travellers are screened for the Ebola virus before getting into Kenya at the Busia One Stop Border Post on June 12, 2019. There's concern over laxity at the border point due to the fresh virus outbreak in Uganda.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group.

Fishermen from Uganda, where there’s an Ebola outbreak, and other travellers are still crossing to the Kenyan side without being screened.

This is worrying locals, with the fisherfolk from Bunyala and Samia calling on the county and national governments to deploy health workers to all the 20 beaches on Lake Victoria for proper surveillance to avert the spread of the virus.

Stephen Musee, the chairman of the Omena beach in Budalangi, said at least 700 people cross daily to Kenya from Uganda via the lake to beaches in Busia County.

“The authorities are concentrating on the two main entrances and forgetting that hundreds of people access the country via the lake. It will be difficult to stop the spread of the disease if those using boats to cross over turn out to be positive for the virus,” he said.

Busia has several beaches, including Omena, Marenga, Mulukoba, Sinyeye, Osieko and Bumbe.

But Governor Paul Otuoma sought to reassure residents that his government was working to stop the virus from entering Kenya.

Inspecting the state of preparedness at Busia one-stop border post, he said they have a holding room there for people who show signs of Ebola before they are allowed into Kenya.

He said they work closely with the Ugandan government and the national government to contain the virus first reported in Mubende district.

“As the government does its part, I also wish to appeal to members of the public to be vigilant and report anybody who shows Ebola-related symptoms they may come across,” he said

Busia County Commissioner Sam Ojwang admitted that his officers are aware of porous routes being used to enter Kenya, but that security agencies are working closely with the county and the Ugandan government to address the situation.

“We have all the measures in place at the Busia post, Malaba, and all other porous routes to make available necessary equipment to curb the disease,” he said.

“We are also in communication with our counterparts in Uganda and they have assured us that they are screening anybody leaving Mubende district, and even before leaving Uganda to the neighbouring state they must also be tested.

“The assurance from our neighbours is an indication that they mean well for other neighbouring countries as far as Ebola is concerned.”