A third case of the Ebola virus in Uganda was confirmed Wednesday as the country braces for the possibility of more infected people arriving from neighboring Congo, where an outbreak has killed hundreds.
The Associated Press reported that a 5-year-old boy died Wednesday after arriving with his family earlier this week in Uganda, where officials are trying to determine how the family made it past the country's efforts to screen refugees at the border for the highly contagious and deadly disease.
A spokesman for the Congolese government's efforts to battle the disease told the AP that some refugees were using walking trails and footpaths to evade Ugandan authorities at the border.
“Many people are evading customs and using small footpaths and it is difficult for us to follow the contacts,” Dr. Dominique Kabongo told the news service.
One official with the Red Cross in Uganda blamed superstitions among neighboring Congo's population for a "stubbornness" that was preventing Uganda from effectively screening refugees.
“They have failed to understand that Ebola is there, they think that it is witchcraft which is killing them," the official said, according to the AP.
Some Congolese contend, however, that Ugandan authorities are quarantining those who present with mild symptoms that could be related to the virus.
“We are not sure if there’s Ebola in Congo. In Congo, if they find you with a headache, they take you to the hospital and later say they died of Ebola," one Congolese merchant told the news service.
As many as 1,400 people are estimated to have died so far in Congo from the disease, while Ugandan health authorities say they “are not panicking" despite the crisis in the neighboring country.
“We have all the contingencies to contain this case,” Henry Mwebesa, Uganda's director of health services, told the news service, adding “It is not going to go beyond [the current reported cases].”