Uganda repatriates’ relatives of Ebola casualties to DRC

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World Health Organization (WHO) officials talk to Ugandan medical staff as they inspect ebola preparedness facilities at the Bwera general hospital near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwera, Uganda, June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Samuel Mambo

Ugandan authorities on Thursday repatriated the relatives of two people who died of Ebola back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials talk to Ugandan medical staff as they inspect ebola preparedness facilities at the Bwera general hospital near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwera, Uganda, June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Samuel Mambo

The cases marked the first time the virus has crossed an international border since the current outbreak began in Congo last August. The epidemic has already killed 1,390 people in eastern Congo.

The family sent home on Thursday had crossed from Congo to Uganda earlier this week and sought treatment when a 5-year-old boy became unwell.

He died of Ebola on Tuesday. His 50-year-old grandmother, who was accompanying them, died of the disease on Wednesday, the ministry said.

They were the first confirmed deaths in Uganda in the current Ebola outbreak.

According to Uganda’s health ministry, the dead boy’s father, mother, 3-year-old brother and their 6-month-old baby, along with the family’s maid, were all repatriated.

The 3-year-old has been confirmed to be infected with Ebola. His 23-year-old Ugandan father has displayed symptoms but tested negative, Ugandan authorities said.

“Uganda remains in Ebola response mode to follow up the 27 contacts (of the family),” the ministry said in a statement.

The government at the same time banned public gatherings in the Kasese district where the family crossed the border.

Uganda has already vaccinated many frontline health workers and is relatively well prepared to contain the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sent 3,500 doses of a Merck experimental vaccine to Uganda this week, following 4,700 initial doses.

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