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Uganda says has no Ebola outbreak after tests turn negative

KAMPALA (Xinhua) -- Uganda’s ministry of health on Tuesday said there is no Ebola outbreak in the east African country after blood samples from a Congolese woman who crossed into the country tested negative.

The ministry in a statement issued here said that samples taken from the 48-year-old woman who presented with bleeding at Bwera Hospital in the border district of Kasese, turned negative of all the viral hemorrhagic fever including Ebola.

The statement said over the last two months the ministry has investigated and tested over 220 samples collected from suspected and alert cases.

“All these tested negative of any Ebola strains, Marburg or Sosuga virus,” the statement said.

The ministry noted that since the outbreak was announced in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Aug. 1, it has been on high alert.

The statement said that the ministry of health with support from partners are supporting districts bordering DRC to heighten preparedness and readiness to handle any Ebola case that might come into the country.

All people crossing into Uganda from DRC are screened for signs and symptoms of Ebola.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding.

Mortality rates of Ebola fever, according to the World Health Organization, are extremely high, with the human case-fatality rate ranging from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on viral sub-type.



Uganda’s mountainous eastern region grapples with deadly landslides

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Mountain Elgon, in eastern Uganda, has some of the best soils in Uganda, producing among others Arabica coffee, the country’s flagship foreign exchange earner.

The mountain ranges are lush green, feeding people downhill, even as far as the capital Kampala, over 250 km away.

Behind the beautiful scenery and the fertile soils, the locals up the mountain ranges face the viciousness of the extinct volcanic mountain.

On Oct. 11, landslides hit Bukalasi and Buwali sub counties in Bududa district, leaving dozens of people dead and several injured. A government report issued on Tuesday said the Oct. 11 disaster left 43 people dead and 21 injured. About 144 houses were washed away, 13 villages affected, 858 people displaced and 12,000 people affected.

Preliminary government investigations show that the landslide triggered boulders into River Suume, which carried them down, killing people and destroying property.

Musa Ecweru, minister of state for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees said in a statement on Tuesday that since May this year when the first rain season began, the Mountain Elgon region has experienced 67 landslides.

The country’s worst landslide happened in March 2010, still in Bududa district, leaving over 300 people dead.

Musa Ecweru said that although the country has received several landslides, some even destroying villages, the number of deaths has gone down. He said in most of the cases there has been zero deaths though many houses, livestock and gardens were destroyed.

Ecweru said this is due to coordination between government, the district disaster management teams and the locals.

He said the Disaster Department has trained communities in each parish up the mountain on how to monitor early signals of landslides.

“The community leaders use their smart phones and megaphones to alert one another and communicate with the Disaster Department,” he said.

The Oct. 11 disaster has caused a change of mind among the people at risk and the local politicians who have been previously opposed to the government’s plan to relocate them.

The country’s Cabinet on Monday directed that the resettlement of persons at risk of landslides must begin immediately.

According to a government statement issued on Tuesday, over 900 households (6,300 people) will be relocated to government land in Bulambuli district and each household will be supported to build a 2-bedroomed house.

The statement said starting mid next year, the government will resettle 10,000 people who are at risk of landslides to safe locations.

“All persons at risk will be resettled and the places they will have vacated will be planted with trees for environment protection and eco-tourism.” the statement said.



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