A 50-year-old woman who tested positive in Uganda is the second patient to be killed by the Ebola virus, a health ministry official said Thursday, the second fatality since the virus spread from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. “The deceased has been confirmed as the grandmother of the five-year-old boy who died. Both victims had attended the burial of an Ebola patient in Congo, but returned to Uganda”, the official continued on condition of anonymity.
Arrangements are being made to bury the woman in Kasese, a district in western Uganda close to the DRC border, the official added. The health ministry announced Wednesday that Uganda had recorded three cases of Ebola infection in the first known cross-border spread since an outbreak began in eastern DRC last August.
All three were from a single family that travelled to DRC to care for a relative, who also died of Ebola. The five-year-old later died and his three-year-old brother and 50-year-old grandmother tested positive for the virus upon returning to Uganda. The grandmother is the second patient to be killed by the Ebola virus in Uganda.
The family was quarantined in a hospital in Bwera, in Kasese district. Eight others who had been in contact with them were also being monitored in an isolation ward. They and frontline health workers are due to be vaccinated Friday with a new drug designed to protect them against the virus, the health ministry said.
East Africa has been on high alert since the outbreak was declared in the eastern DRC provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. More than 2,000 cases have been recorded in DRC – around two-thirds of them fatal.
The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting Friday to determine whether to declare the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern,” a major shift in the mobilisation against the disease.