Health checkpoints will be installed at the entrances to all polling stations in Congo’s Ebola-affected region during the December election, the Ministry of Health has said.
With deaths from the virus now at 180 and 250 confirmed cases recorded in eastern Congo, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed “concern” at the increase in cases over the past month, notably in the towns of Beni and Butembo.
With millions of Congolese expected to vote in December’s presidential election, the ministry says the process will proceed unimpeded, but they are taking no chances.
“We plan to install health checkpoints with hand washing and temperature sensing devices at the entrance of all polling stations in the areas affected by the outbreak,” the ministry said.
Aside from the precautions being taken around elections, the WHO has also warned Congo’s neighbours to be vigilant “as the risk of national and regional spread is very high.”
Neighbouring Uganda has started taking measures, with the health minister in Kampala saying Friday that the country will start immunising health care workers and border staff On Monday.
Uganda “will conduct compassionate use of the Ebola vaccine (rVSV) for health care and front line workers,” minister Jane Ruth Aceng said, targeting about 1,600 health workers near the border.
“As a neighbour to the DRC, Uganda is on high alert due to the high risk of the Ebola threat,” the Health Ministry said.
No fewer than 25,000 people in Congo have already received the vaccine, according to authorities.