Laboratory tests for the 48 year old man suspected of having Ebola in Jinja district turned out negative for both Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday.
According to the Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the samples taken from the late Anthony Mutebe, a resident of Mukwanga Zone in Buwenge town, were tested at both the Central Public Health Laboratory in Butabika and the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe, and both yielded negative results.
The death of the 48-year-old on Friday had caused panic in the community as he had exhibited symptoms similar to those of Ebola, including bleeding from his eyes, nose, and mouth before collapsing in a trading center. Prior to his death, Mutebe reportedly vomited blood for nearly ten minutes before collapsing, which prompted residents to alert the police authorities.
They cordoned off the scene and prevented dozens of residents, along with family members who had gathered in the area, from coming into contact with the deceased. Aceng commended the community in Buwenge for their vigilance and prompt reporting, which is crucial in fighting contagious diseases.
She also mentioned that they took all necessary precautions, including not coming into contact with the body. However, the exact cause of Mutebe’s death was not disclosed.
It all started in Mukwanga zone in Buwenge town council in Jinja district on Friday when 48-year-old Anthony Mutebe, exhibited Ebola-like symptoms before collapsing and dying in a trading center. Mutebe’s body, which had blood spills in his eyes, mouth, nose, and ears, was left in the open for fear of spreading a suspected contagious disease.
Prior to his death, Mutebe reportedly vomited blood for nearly ten minutes before collapsing, prompting the residents to alert the police authorities.
They cordoned off the scene and prevented dozens of residents, along with family members who had converged in the area, from getting in contact with the deceased. At around 1:00 pm, the residents grew weary of waiting for the Jinja district health surveillance teams to arrive, accusing them of delaying their response.
However, the police personnel who had since pitched camp in the area deterred them from executing their planned moves. Musa Magumba, the Buwenge town council councilor stated that Mutebe was confirmed dead at around 8:00 am. The delayed arrival of the health workers left community members alarmed, watching the lifeless body of their own in the open, prompting some of them to initiate moves to forcefully remove it.
Magumba further argued that surveillance teams should be on standby to intervene in cases where sudden death is suspected to result from contagious diseases. Such quick responses deter residents from accessing risky areas.
Ziyyad Waiswa, a resident in the area, said that Mutebe died before their watch. However, the delayed intervention by the health workers created more suspicion in the community. Several individuals, including children, strolled in to pay their last respects to their deceased neighbor, touching his forehead, as it is a norm in the area. Yet, he is suspected to have succumbed to a contagious disease.
Philip Magezi, another resident, argued that since police personnel are the first responders during community emergencies, the force’s top leadership should devise means of deploying health experts alongside their usual scene of crime officers.
This would enable them to extract crucial samples from the deceased, which deters unrest resulting from delays by district health officials who have to endure endless protocols before conducting such procedures.
However, members of the Buwenge health center IV surveillance team, led by Pauline Akiror, intervened and extracted samples from the deceased. These were referred to the Uganda virus research institute for examination to ascertain the cause of death. The team further wrapped the deceased in a body bag, laid it in a coffin, and handed it over to the family members.
They also accorded a burial team to lay it to rest in a socially distanced manner at a funeral of 30 members, comprising the spouse, biological children, and selected relatives. Akiror further challenged members of the general public who accessed the cordoned-off areas to extensively wash their soft parts with soap and water as they await the final results pertaining to Mutebe’s demise.