Cross-border activities remain high in Busia amidst Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Busia

The Busia one-stop border crossing.

Photo credit: File

Residents of Busia County were yesterday crossing into neighbouring Uganda without being screened for Ebola, sparking fears of the virus spreading across the border.

A spot check indicated that traders were crossing the border with no screening taking place except for truck drivers and individuals seeking clearance from the Immigration offices before crossing into Uganda.

There was a flurry of activity at the border with people crossing from either side without going through screening or checks by security officials.

This is happening despite assurances from Health officials from Busia County that adequate measures had been put in place to ensure contain the spread of Ebola to the country.

On Thursday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced that truck drivers, bush meat handlers, healthcare workers and travellers will undergo screening for Ebola following a fresh outbreak of the disease and death of a 24 year old man in central Uganda.

Mr Kagwe said counties that share borders with affected countries have been advised to sensitise their residents and healthcare workers to enable them to identify Ebola cases, institute preventive measures and gain proficiency in case and sample management.

Health officials in Busia said they had put in place adequate measures to deal with any reported outbreak of Ebola.

Acting Chief officer of Health Dr Melsa Lutomia said the county government had enhanced surveillance along the border in Busia and Malaba.

“We have also heightened screening of all travellers and truck drivers at the port health offices in Busia and Malaba respectively to make sure that no one goes through the border unnoticed,” said Ms Lutomia.

The health officials said they had reactivated the county and sub county hospital emergency preparedness committees to be on the alert to deal with any reported outbreak of the disease.

Dr Lutomia urged those using porous routes to access the country to stop doing so since they were exposing themselves to the risk of the infection and spreading the disease.

 "Besides all the measures we have in place it is also good to let our people to take personal responsibility to prevent the infection from crossing to the country and that is by using the gazetted routes where they will be screened and allowed to proceed if they are not infected or put on treatment if they are infected,” she said

 She added, "Port health staff at Busia and Malaba are already screening passengers entering the country at the border and there is no need for alarm.

She urged members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected Ebola case to the authorities and health officials for intervention.

“We are planning to roll out a sensitisation programme to the community to be able to identify and report any suspected cases to the authorities. Besides, we are also planning to distribute Ebola related posters and materials as one of the measures to address the problem," she said

 Busia deputy governor Mr Arthur Odera while inspecting operations at Malaba border post said the county government is working closely with the national government to prevent the disease from spreading into the country.

 “We are at the risk of being infected because of our proximity to the border but we are working closely with the national government to make sure all porous routes are being closely monitored by security officials to prevent possibilities of infected persons accessing the country illegally," he said.

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