Doctors in Ebola zone strike over safety

Trainee medics battling Ebola in Uganda’s virus epicentre accuse the government of putting their lives at risk.

“Most times you come into contact with a patient and you use your bare hands,” one worker told the BBC anonymously.

All trainees at Mubende‘s regional hospital say they are on strike and are demanding to be moved somewhere safer.

But Ugandan health ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, told the BBC there was “no strike at the hospital”.

Yet all 34 of the hospital’s interns – including doctors, pharmacists and nurses – have announced their decision to strike in a joint statement.

They say they are being put at undue risk because they lack appropriate safety kit, risk allowances and health insurance.

Six interns at the hospital have already been exposed to the virus, and are awaiting their test results in isolation.

Since the outbreak began earlier this month, official government data shows 36 people are suspected of contracting Ebola, of whom 23 have died.

A 24-year-old-man was the first known Ebola death, and six members of his family also died.

No effective Ebola vaccine is available here yet, because the Sudan strain circulating in central Uganda is different from the Zaire strain that has afflicted West Africa and DR Congo and which can be immunised against.

Experts say it is unrealistic to think Ebola will ever be eradicated, but it is now easier to prevent a crisis.

The Ebola virus has reared its head again, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While it is impossible to predict exactly where and when the next outbreak will occur, we now know much more about how to prevent a crisis.

The news of an Ebola outbreak in the town of Bikoro in north-west DR Congo instantly brings to mind the horror of the epidemic that took 11,000 lives and infected 28,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

It is a nightmare no-one wants to relive – or should have to.

Since April4 in DR Congo, there have been more than 30 possible cases – involving 18 deaths – although only two incidents have so far been confirmed as Ebola. -BBC

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