Kenya keeps Uganda borders open despite Ebola outbreak

Uganda doctors

Frontline workers at the Ebola Treatment Unit in Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, central Uganda. PHOTO | COURTESY

Kenya will not shut down its borders with Uganda or impose stringent travel restrictions following the outbreak of Ebola disease in the East African nation last month.

Health director-general Patrick Amoth said the border between the nations would remain open. However, Kenya will enhance screening at the points of entry to contain the spread of deadly diseases in the country.

The health authorities in Uganda on September 20 declared an outbreak of Ebola after it confirmed a case of the Sudan ebolavirus in the Mubende district in the central part of the country.

“Following the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, we are putting in place measures to ensure public health security of the Kenyan people, including heightened surveillance at the points of entry,” said Dr Amoth Thursday.

“We don’t intend to put any restrictions in place because they are not going to work.”

This is in line with other countries, including the US, which have enhanced screening following the outbreak of the viral disease.

Travellers who have been to Uganda within 21 days of arriving in the US are subject to enhanced screening, according to a health alert, the US Embassy in Uganda issued last week.

The screening applies to any passenger who was in Uganda including US citizens. It involves a temperature and symptom check conducted by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

The CDC will also collect contact information to be shared with local health departments at the travellers’ destination.

Uganda has seen soaring infection rates and a rapidly rising death toll since the highly contagious Ebola virus broke out late last month.

On Wednesday, Uganda recorded 54 cases of the Ebola virus and 19 deaths.

Uganda is one of Kenya’s main trading partners and in 2021 accounted for 80,067 arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

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