Tanzania's health minister issued an "Ebola alert" yesterday after the disease, which has killed over 1,400 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), appeared in neighboring Uganda.
"I want to alert the public that there is the threat of an Ebola epidemic in our country," Ummy Mwalimu tweeted days after officials confirmed that members of a family who had traveled to the DRC had died in western Uganda. The minister said the alert was necessary given the frequent interactions between Tanzanian and Ugandan people "via the official borders or by other, unofficial channels."
The DRC's epidemic is the second-worst ever, with 2,108 cases of Ebola and 1,411 deaths since last August. Last week, it reached Uganda, where three cases were recorded, all in people who had arrived from Congo. Two members of a Ugandan family, a woman and her five-year-old grandson died of Ebola this week after travelling to the DRC to take care of a dying family member and attend the funeral. Ebola spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, bodily fluids, secretions or the organs of an infected person, or by objects contaminated by such fluids.A World Health Organization (WHO) panel decided on Friday not to declare an international emergency over the DRC's Ebola outbreak despite its spread to Uganda this week, concluding such a declaration could cause too much economic harm. The U.N. body declares public health emergencies when a disease outbreak in a country risks spreading beyond its borders.