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Kenya patient free of Ebola, as Congo, Uganda fight outbreak

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People coming from Congo have their temperature measured to screen for symptoms of Ebola, at the Mpondwe border crossing with Congo, in western Uganda Friday, June 14, 2019. In Uganda, health workers had long prepared in case the Ebola virus got past the screening conducted at border posts with Congo and earlier this week it did, when a family exposed to Ebola while visiting Congo returned home on an unguarded footpath. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya remains free from Ebola as test results show that a sick woman does not have the deadly hemorrhagic fever, while neighboring Uganda and Congo battle a stubborn outbreak of the disease.

Kenya’s Health Minister Sicily Kariuki Monday announced that a patient isolated at the Kericho County Referral Hospital does not have Ebola.

“The results of tests carried out by the Kenya Medical Research Institute laboratories on the 36-year-old lady currently admitted in the isolation unit of the Kericho County Referral hospital have been confirmed to be negative for the Ebola virus disease and other hemorrhagic fevers,” Kariuki said in a statement.

The woman showed some symptoms of Ebola after travelling from Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda border, sparking fears that Congo’s current outbreak had spread to Kenya. The outbreak in eastern Congo has killed more than 1,400 people since August and last week it spread to neighboring Uganda where two people died.

Kenya’s health minister had earlier given assurances that all appropriate measures had been taken to prevent the spread of Ebola.

“Precautionary measures have been put in place including isolation of the patient,” said Kariuki, while touring the Nairobi international airport to see how arriving passengers are screened for symptoms of fever.

The two victims in Uganda were part of a Congolese-Ugandan family who are believed to have contracted the disease at a funeral in Congo that was attended by dozens of people.

An expert committee of the World Health Organization on Friday said Congo’s Ebola outbreak is an “extraordinary event” of deep concern but does not yet merit being declared a global emergency.

Speaking in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that he accepted the decision.

“From our side, I would like to pledge that we will continue mobilizing global and regional support to control this outbreak as soon as possible. It is not clean until the outbreak in (Congo) is finished,” he said, according to a statement from Uganda’s health ministry.

The spread of Ebola in eastern Congo has been “very unpredictable, with up and down trends,” he said.

In eastern Congo, health officials have begun offering vaccinations to all residents in the hotspot of Mabalako whereas previous efforts had only targeted known contacts or those considered to be at high risk.

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AP journalists Khaled Kazziha in Nairobi, Kenya, and Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, and Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro in Mabalako, Congo, contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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