CNOOC Uganda Ltd has suspended oil exploration activities in Kikuube district over an Ebola scare. CNOOC is a Chinese firm that has a license to explore oil in the Kingfisher oil field, located in Kikuube district on the shores of Lake Albert.
CNOOC public relations director, Amina Bukenya, said that the move was as a result of the death of a suspected Ebola patient at the Buhuka health centre on Saturday, July 20. The patient reported to the health centre with Ebola-like symptoms after crossing from Congo into Uganda. The health centre is located within the Kingfisher exploration area. She further said that all CNOOC field staff in the area have been recalled to Kampala for health and safety reasons, which are in line with the company’s health, safety and environment requirements.
Bukenya added that the workers will return to the field once the ministry of Health and other partners assure them that the place is free of Ebola. CNOOC, that has a camp in the area, has since been closed off to any outsiders and instructed all its staff to stay within the camp.
Early this week, the Ministry of Health said the country will not be declared Ebola free until the situation in the disease-ravaged neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo stabilises. The announcement came nine days to the mandatory 42 days after which a country is supposed to be declared Ebola free once there is no new case from the time of confirmation of the first one. The first case of Ebola in Uganda was confirmed in Kasese District last month. Since then, the disease has been contained in Kasese and the area declared disease free.