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The Health Ministry has urged medical workers across the country to exercise caution when handling every patient as the country battles an Ebola outbreak.
Director General of Health Services Dr Henry Mwebesa said health workers should apply good infection prevention and control methods, especially after examining each patient.
Dr Mwebesa made the remarks at Uganda Martyrs University, Ngetta Campus – Lira Town on Sunday. He was in the area with other dignitaries to celebrate the successful training of 168 community health extension workers in the area.
The six-month training, which began on May 2, included theoretical and practical work.
“You know, you can say Ebola is in Mubende, Kasanda and Masaka. Maybe there are Ebola cases in Kampala, but you know traveling in Uganda is very easy. For example, when I traveled from Kampala, we could have come [here] with Ebola. There are a lot of people going up and down,” Dr Mwebesa said.
“So don’t relax and think Ebola is on that side. You must have a very high index of suspicion. Even you; because in the communities you go to, you don’t know the people you’re with. You may think it is fever and malaria when in reality it could be Ebola,” he added.
Dr Mwebesa further requested the Lira District and Lira Town Health Officer to create a mechanism to tell health workers to have a very high index of suspicion.
“Of course it hurts when we lose someone to Ebola, but it hurts even more when we lose our health workers and we have already lost some,” Dr Mwebesa said.
“So please tell our health workers to have very good infection prevention and control methods, especially after screening each patient to wash their hands with soap and water. and it will be a magic to protect our health workers. And also Covid-19 is still there. So we may also need to encourage our staff to take booster doses and the whole community,” he added.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, also recalled that while the country is facing the Ebola crisis, the Covid-19 is still there.
She said Covid vaccines were in all facilities that vaccinate children, urging health workers to encourage the community to get vaccinated.
“It’s because the Covid vaccine protects for a short time and it makes Covid [to behave] like the flu. You may have a fever and be in pain, but you cannot be admitted, that is what we want,” the minister said.
Dr Aceng added: “Right now, in our neighboring country – our neighbor to the east – the positivity rate has increased to 9.4%. We’re about 0.5%. We start to worry when the positivity rate hits 5%. Usually we have a three week gap. He will rise again and people will die.
The outbreak of the Sudanese strain of Ebola had, according to the Health Ministry’s November 8 update, killed 54 of the 136 people infected.