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Kasese Residents Not Bothered by Ebola Case in the District

David Mawazo, an eggs trader at Mpondwe, says the people have gotten used to the virus disease since it has been talked about since August 2018. Mawazo says people in the area are not bothered because the assumption is that all the Congolese nationals who cross into Uganda are screened first at the seven screening points at the border line.

Audio 5

A section of Kasese residents are seemingly unbothered about the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) despite the fact that a case has been confirmed in the district. On Friday, a nine-year-old girl hailing from the Eastern Part of the Democratic Republic of Congo was pronounced dead at the Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit – ETU, a day after being admitted at the facility.    

The girl who was strapped on the back of her mother was intercepted by frontline health workers at Mpondwe Ebola Screening point after her body temperature was abnormally high, at 40 degrees. The deceased brings the number of Ebola cases to four, since another three people succumbed to the same disease in June this year in Kasese district, all of them Congolese.

Uganda is one of the countries listed by WHO as being at risk of Ebola infection considering the fact that it neighbors DRC, which has been grappling with the monstrous disease for more than a year now. By Friday evening, officials from Uganda and DRC had agreed that the deceased girl should be given a decent burial at her ancestral home in the DRC by medical personnel although the body was yet to be picked by DRC officials.    

People Not Bothered   

On Friday, URN spent the better part of day at Mpondwe border market and it was business as usual. Thousands of people were strolling in and out of Uganda and DRC to transact. Statistics indicate that close to 20,000 people cross to and from Uganda on market days on Tuesday and Friday.

Surprisingly, the situation was “abnormally normal”. In fact, most of the people URN talked to didn’t even know that another person had tested positive to Ebola and subsequently died in Kasese. Other than the major screening point at Mpondwe border point, there is no other feature around Mpondwe market that creates awareness about the disease. 

People move freely and are congested in the market. URN saw so many people greeting each other by shaking hands as others were hugging. The World Health Organisation (WHO) discourages large crowds and shaking of hands, hugging and close body contact in an area where an Ebola index has been confirmed.

David Mawazo, an eggs trader at Mpondwe, says the people have gotten used to the virus disease since it has been talked about since August 2018. Mawazo says people in the area are not bothered because the assumption is that all the Congolese nationals who cross into Uganda are screened first at the seven screening points at the border line.

//Cue in: “Esyathukalengekanaya thuthi…”

Cue out: “….ambuli ibbwa kyabiribya worse.”//

A similar argument is advanced by Cosmas Muhindo, a resident of Karambi Sub County that is at the extreme end of the country bordering the DRC. Muhindo says their hope is that all the people who cross into the DRC are screened and proven free of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

//Cue in: “Thukabya ithunasi thuthi….”

Cue out: “….bethu abakalhwa eyisirya.”//

Yonah Kighoma, another trader at Mpondwe, says much as there are seven designated entry points where people are tested before they enter into Uganda, there are several other entry points, which people use to enter the country without any screening.

//Cue in: “It’s not everybody…”

Cue out: “….is affected.”//

   

Uganda shares a porous border with DRC and nationals of both countries own families and run errands across the border lines. Kighoma says many of the Congolese nationals are yet to believe that Ebola is a viral disease. They instead attribute the monstrous disease to superstition and witch craft meant to destabilize the North Kivu Province.

According to Kighoma, some Congolese believe the argument that there is Ebola in the DRC is a ploy to disorganize the people in the North Kivu Province so that they don’t pile pressure on the Kinshansha government.

//Cue in: “We do associate…”

Cue out: “…disease is there.”//

Dr. Loice Kabyanga, the Case Management Officer at Bwera Hospital, confirmed that indeed some Ugandans have started adopting the notion that Ebola is a hoax created to fleece money from development partners.

//Cue in: “We have also noted…..”

Cue out: “…..a lot of sensitisation.”//

As of August 6, a total of 2,781 Ebola cases had been reported in the DRC. 1,866 cases have so far died while 94 probable cases are being monitored in this Eastern Part of the DRC.  

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