Second Ebola victim dies in Uganda as disease spreads

Agence France-Presse
New centres are being set up in Uganda for people at risk of the disease - International Rescue Committee

A grandmother in Uganda has died from Ebola, health officials said Thursday, the second fatality in the country since a major outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo crossed the border.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng announced Wednesday that Uganda had recorded three cases of Ebola in the first known cross-border spread since an outbreak began in eastern DRC last August.

The patients were from a family of six, including four children, that travelled to DRC to care for a relative and later attended his burial after he died of Ebola.

Upon returning to Uganda two brothers - aged five and three - and the 50-year-old grandmother tested positive for the virus, and the family was quarantined in Bwera, a border town in the country's west.

The older boy died Tuesday - the first Ebola fatality in Uganda since the start of the DRC outbreak that has seen more than 2,000 cases recorded, around two-thirds of which have been fatal.

A health ministry official said Thursday the grandmother had also died overnight.

"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 DRC, but returned to Uganda," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The official said arrangements were being made to bury the woman in Kasese, the western district bordering Congo where her grandson was laid to rest Wednesday.

About 25,000 people cross the district's main border crossing of Mpwonde at a daily basis, according to the DRC health ministry.

The World Health Organization also confirmed the woman had succumbed to the haemorrhagic virus.

WHO said 27 others in contact with the family had been placed under close monitoring.

Uganda's health ministry said frontline health workers were due to be vaccinated Friday with a new drug designed to protect them against the virus.