CAMPALA, Uganda – A child in Uganda has tested positive for Ebola, in the first cross-border case of the deadly virus since an outbreak started in the neighboring region last year, Uganda's health ministry said on Tuesday.  The 5-year-old Congolese boy has been isolated with family members in a hospital in a western district near the Congo border, Uganda's health minister Jane Aceng said. Two family members were tested for Ebola after developing symptoms, with results expected on Wednesday.
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The announcement puts a fresh pressure on the World Health Organization to explain the Ebola outbreak – the second most deadly in history – a global health situation. The outbreak takes place in conjunction with unprecedented challenges of rebel attacks and community resistance in a region that has never before experienced Ebola.
In April, a WHO expert committee decided that the outbreak, under "deep concern" was not yet a global health emergency. But international dissemination is one of the major criteria that the UN agency considers to be such an explanation.
It wasn't immediately clear when the boy entered Uganda. A WHO statement said he arrived on Sunday with his family through the Bwera border post. He sought treatment at Kagando Hospital and was transferred to the Bwera Ebola treatment center, WHO said.
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Confirmation of Ebola was made Tuesday by Uganda Virus Institute. "The Ministry of Health and WHO have sent a quick response to Kasese to identify other people who may be in danger," said the WHO.
Congo Ministry of Health in a separate statement said that the boy from Mabalako arrived on Monday at. Congo Kasindi border post. There, a dozen family members seemed to have symptoms and were transferred to an isolation center at the local hospital for observation.
Six family members then broke away while being transferred to an Ebola treatment center in Beni and crossed into Uganda while Congolese border officials warned their Ugandan colleagues, the Kongo Health Ministry said. Uganda officials found the family members at the Kagando Hospital, where the boy's Ebola case was confirmed.
Officials from the two countries will meet on Wednesday on the opportunity to send the family back to Beni in the Congo for treatment, the Ministry of Health said.
It was not immediately clear how family members could cross the border where millions of travelers have been screened for Ebola since the outbreak began. WHO has recommended travel restrictions.
Since August, over 2,000 confirmed and probable cases of the Ebola virus in Congo have occurred, with nearly 1,400 deaths. The disease is spread mainly by contact with bodily fluids of the infected.
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For the first time, an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine is used, with more than 130,000 doses distributed. Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers, WHO said.