Expert Strongly Reacts to the News that Cases of Ebola Virus Disease in Uganda Repatriated to DRC


On Thursday, June 13, 2019, I woke up in total dismayed, news that five family members were repatriated to the DRC. It was said that the returnees are the mother of the index case, the 3-year-old brother (who is a confirmed Ebola case), a 6-month-old baby, the father of Ugandan children, and the nanny. Health authorities in DRC and Urganda said “to date, no more cases of Ebola are found in Uganda”. This statement is misleading.

By Tolbert Nyenswah, LLB, MPH

The world was made to believe that Uganda was preparing for any eventuality of importation of EVD into Uganda and other neighboring countries. The news that confirmed, suspected and probable cases of ebola were repatriated to their country of origin is not only sad but indicate “gross unpreparedness” to tackle the new cluster of outbreak of ebola in Uganda. The lingering question on my mind is what happens to the Ugandan citizens who came in contact with the confirmed cases? Which Country is Uganda repatriating her citizens? The fact of the matter is touching the body fluids of the case and having direct physical contact with the body of the case conferred a 9- and 20-fold increased risk of EVD status, respectively.

This is the epidemiologic of ebola, unarguably once a confirmed case is reported in a given population that population is exposed and contacts generated. Repatriating the contacts is not the panacea. It is more or like treating the symptoms and forgetting to diagnose the real disease.

Contact tracing in an Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is the process of identifying individuals who may have been exposed to infected persons with the virus, followed by monitoring for 21 days (the maximum incubation period) from the date of the most recent exposure.