Following an outbreak of Ebola in the Ugandan town of Mubende, health authorities in the Kenyan frontier town of Busia have heightened surveillance in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading across the border.
Everyone passing through the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, and Uganda into Kenya now have to undergo screening at the border crossing.
‘So, what is happening is the taking of temperature after which the clients fill in a surveillance form. Basically they fill in their personal details like their name and contact details and where they started their journey from so that we can detect whether they are from any areas near the Mubende division of Uganda,’ said Dr Melsa Lutomia, Acting Chief Officer of Health Sanitation in the Busia County Government.
If a person’s body temperature were to exceed 37.8 celsius, they would be directed to a holding room at the border. If their temperature remained high, they would then be taken to an Ebola isolation centre at the local hospital.
But border officials say that despite having screened over 5,000 people since the first case of Ebola was reported in Uganda about two weeks ago, no one has had to go to the centre yet.
Truck driver, George Mwangi, was travelling from Kenya to Uganda.
‘I am afraid because I am heading to Uganda leaving my family back at home. If I get Ebola my family will suffer and I will not be able to see them. Because if I go to them, I will infect them. I will be put in quarantine and they will suffer,’ he said.
Local residents worried
There is heavy traffic at this border post, with many travellers and truck drivers passing through from neighbouring countries, and local residents in Busia are nervous
‘Many people cross through this border. People from Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania. I want to plead with the government to put strict measures in place. If they don’t take serious measures here, we will be greatly affected. If we catch the disease we can spread it to other cities and many people will die,’ said Lucas Odongo.
So far, the screening seems to be working. Kenyan health officials said that there have been no cases of Ebola reported in the country, and the spread of the disease appears to be contained within Uganda.