UGANDA (eTN0 – Tourism stakeholders, just returned from a successful World Travel Market (WTM) 2012 attendance in London, are facing up to stark news that ebola has yet again reappeared and already claimed two victims in the Luwero District of Uganda. This is just six weeks after the last outbreak was confirmed to have been brought under control and the WHO in conjunction with the Ministry of Health in Kampala declared the country ebola free. The disease reappeared, while at the same time the country is still dealing with the outbreak of the equally deadly Marburg fever. Reports a few weeks ago of Yellow Fever claiming at least one victim have only added to the woes, unsettling potential visitors and having tourism stakeholders struggle to overcome these added negative perceptions abroad about the country.
“I got the news from a web link to the Monitor yesterday afternoon and have already had several emails from clients. They are concerned about what is going on, because Luwero is on the way to one of our important parks. Two travel agents called me and also asked if Marburg has been controlled now.
“After WTM I thought I can concentrate on promoting Uganda, and now I am fighting again to explain things which we read in papers but even government has not yet made official statements. Ahead of the busy end-of-year season, this is not good,” commented a regular source late last evening.
The Luwero District Health Officer was quoted in the local media as confirming that the ebola strain was of the Sudanese type and also conceding that besides the two confirmed cases, two more death cases are being looked into after initial tests on Marburg came back negative, prompting further checks if those, too, could be ebola related.
A source from the Ministry of Tourism, on condition of anonymity for not being an official spokesperson, said that tourists were, like in past outbreaks, most unlikely to come in contact with or drive by the close vicinity of an outbreak and should, therefore, not be worried about health issues when visiting the country.
“Normally it is quite enough to take precautions against malaria and have a yellow fever inoculation but other than that nothing else is required or recommended. And those two are also the case when visiting other East African countries, so there is no cause for alarm.”