JUBA, June 20 (Xinhua) — South Sudan has tightened up its border scrutiny campaign against Ebola after an outbreak of the viral hemorrhagic fever disease was reported recently in neighboring Uganda.
Laze Geoffrey Wajaras, a public health officer in Nimule, said a border rapid response team comprising ten healthcare workers have set up a screening room at the border entrance as commuters enter the east Africa’s youngest immigration offices through Uganda’s border town of Elegu.
Wajaras told Xinhua on Thursday that the good cooperation between security officials at the border made it relatively easy for them to quickly screen the passengers to impede the outbreak.
“If a passenger is screened with a normal body temperature of 35.5 Celsius you are allowed to go, but if the temperature is less than 35.5 it is retaken. Like if it is 33.5 Celsius we retake it,” said Wajaras.
If a passenger temperature is greater than 37.8 Celsius, the person will be referred from a primary screening point to the secondary screening point for rest and retake, he said.
Wajaras said the outbreak of Ebola in Uganda has created a public health scare and put the war-torn country at high risk of the hemorrhagic fever, his health team is ensuring that all passengers must be screened in an effort to enhance the border preparedness.
“Before entering the Nimule primary screening sites, every traveler has to wash hands and after washing then they all queue in a line with a space in between them so that there is no contact,” Wajaras told Xinhua.
He observed that it does not mean that if a traveler’s temperature is abnormal, then the person is an Ebola suspect, but it could be malaria or typhoid. He said such cases are referred to isolation site established at the Nimule teaching hospital for a thorough examination.
Emilo Igga Alimas, Pageri County commissioner, who chaired health cluster and security meeting in the areas, told Xinhua that they have established three screening sites, one at the main border point, one at the river port, and one at the airstrip site as a measure to enhancing the country’s overall preparedness for epidemic crisis.
“We have three screening sites that are working from morning starting from 6: 00 am to 9: 00 pm local time, every day and in a week we could screen over 35,000 through these entry points,” Alimas said.
South Sudan recently launched its country’s updated second national plan on how to stop the virus from gaining a foothold in the country, during which the country appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance of 12 million U.S. dollars to boost its campaign against Ebola.
The highly contagious virus’ symptoms are manifested mainly by fever, diarrhea, generalized pain and in many cases internal and external bleeding.
According to World Health Organization, South Sudan has set up a 72-hour outbreak response and containment plan and vaccine readiness at the 25 screening sites at border enter points across the country.
Riek Gai Kok, South Sudan’s health minister, said the confirmation of Ebola in Uganda’s western district of Kasese has created a public health concern and the young country is tightening its health care system in a bid to keep bugs at bay away from the country.
“We have deployed well-trained rapid response team at all border entry points to do the screening of all passengers, including the nationals that are returning from refugee settlements in Uganda and DRC, respectively, to prevent the possible spreading of the virus after its outbreak,” Kok told Xinhua on Thursday.
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet