Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam

Uganda will vaccinate against Ebola should the virus spread from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been hit twice this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Uganda borders Congo’s Ituri and North Kivu provinces, where Ebola is believed to have killed 97 people since the latest outbreak started about two months ago, infecting 45 others.

The disease is said to have killed another person this the city of Butembo, which is a center for Congolese mineral exports and imports from East African ports via Uganda.

In a statement on Thursday, the WHO said it was helping Uganda to set up the “ring vaccination” strategy being used in Congo.

Under the strategy, every contact of an Ebola case including health workers and family members is traced and vaccinated.

“The opportunity that vaccinating frontline health workers and ring vaccination provides to contain the disease … is one that must never be missed. That’s why we are making all these costly but necessary preparations,” WHO’s Uganda Representative Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam said in the statement.

Uganda has identified spaces to store the vaccine and installed equipment to ensure it can be transported nationwide.

Uganda has so afr experienced five outbreaks of Ebola since 2000, the latest in 2017. The contagious disease causes hemorrhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Ebola killed 11,300 in West Africa in 2013-2016, though treatment during that outbreak was less advanced.

The experimental vaccine, manufactured by Merck, was first deployed to the Congo this year. It is designed to target the Zaire strain of the virus, which was confirmed to have caused Congo’s current outbreak.

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