Three people have reportedly succumbed to Ebola after they exhumed a body to perform burial rituals which had been buried by Ebola response team in Kasanda district.
Kasanda remains the epicenter of Ebola with hundreds infected.
The Ministry of Health attributes the escalation of the virus in the area to defiance by the locals who raid graveyards at night and retrieve the bodies to perform rituals.
Dr Geoffrey Bwire, the assistant commissioner in the Ministry of Health, said when specialized district burial teams bury those who have died of Ebola, residents exhume the bodies at night to perform rituals on them.
“About two weeks ago, our teams buried someone in Kalwana Village, Kikandwa Sub-county, who had succumbed to Ebola but the locals waited for them to leave and at night, they exhumed the body and performed burial rituals on it. Since bodies of those who have died from Ebola are highly infectious, many people were infected,” Dr Bwire told a meeting on Ebola response in the district on Tuesday
He said following the exhumation, 23 confirmed cases were registered out of the total 42 in the district, adding that 546 contacts were traced out of that burial.
The Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, cautioned residents against exhuming the bodies, saying they risk having the district population wiped away.
“The communities need to understand that those bodies are very infectious. That is the message the leaders need to carry to the communities,” Dr Aceng said. Dr Godfrey Ekuka, an official from the Health ministry, called for beefing up of their burial teams with more police officers, saying some errant locals had threatened to beat them up.
Ministry of Health has since announced that 3 among the 23 cases have died of Ebola, urging the population particularly in Kasanda to be more collaborative in fight the virus.