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South Sudan Reports Suspected Ebola Cases

FILE - Staff from South Sudan's Health Ministry pose with protective suits during a drill for Ebola preparedness conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) with ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action) and International Medical Corps in Juba, August 14, 2019.

South Sudan health officials say one person suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus died three days ago in Central Equatoria state’s Kajokeji County before his laboratory test results were confirmed.

Mabior Kiir, chief of planning and information at the health ministry’s Public Health Emergency Operations Center said the deceased man, 33, is one of five suspected Ebola cases the South Sudan health ministry has been investigating this past week.

The health ministry is investigating other suspected cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Kiir told South Sudan in Focus.

“At the moment, we have five suspects we received since the preparedness of this EVD and one suspect passed on. The suspect is from Kiri, that is Kangapo in Kajokeji County,” said Kiir, adding that he had no history of recent travel to Uganda where a deadly outbreak has been confirmed.

Kiir said alerts regarding the virus are being reported from Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states, adding that one alert was reported in Yambio, another in Nimule, one in Kajokeji and two others in Yei.

Samples from the suspected cases have been sent to South Africa for examination. Results are expected later this week, Kiir said.

With active trade between South Sudan and Uganda, the government is stepping up preventative measures by conducting surveillance across parts of the country, said Dr. John Rumunu, incident manager at South Sudan’s Ministry of Health.

Dr. Rumunu said some South Sudanese refugees in Uganda who are returning home and booming trade along the border between Uganda and South Sudan puts the country at higher risk of an Ebola outbreak.

“Its transmission is through direct contact with the affected person and the body fluids from the confirmed patient like saliva, sweat, tears, urine, feces, blood if someone gets into contact with this body fluids, the person will be likely to contract Ebola,” Rumunu said.

The Uganda government is battling an Ebola outbreak in its central district of Mubende.

According to Uganda’s New Vision newspaper, the Uganda Ministry of Health has reported 35 Ebola cases, including seven deaths.

Dr. Rumunu urged the public to report any suspected Ebola-like symptoms to health authorities.

“If anybody sees a case like this at home, in the community please let the health authorities know. We have a toll-free number 6666 which we were using for COVID-19. You can call this number anywhere in South Sudan,” Rumunu said.

Medical experts describe Ebola as a deadly virus with initial symptoms that include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat.

Subsequent stages can include vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases both internal and external bleeding known as hemorrhaging. The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks.