Uganda extends lockdowns as Ebola spreads

Photo taken October 27, 2022, Ebola Sudan doctors disinfecting themselves inside an isolation center in Mubende, Uganda.Uganda has registered 32 recorded deaths and 115 confirmed cases from an outbreak of the Ebola- Sudan virus. The first death from this outbreak of the Ebola-Sudan strain was announced on 19 September and as yet, there is no vaccine for this strain. (Photo by BADRU KATUMBA / AFP)

KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda on Saturday extended a three-week lockdown on two districts at the center of an Ebola outbreak which has claimed over 50 lives, curbing travel and closing public places.

Since the outbreak was declared in the central district of Mubende on September 20, the disease has spread across the East African nation, including the capital Kampala.

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Fifty-one deaths reported have been reported as of Saturday, according to Ugandan authorities.

The strain now circulating in Uganda is known as the Sudan Ebola virus, for which there is currently no vaccine, although there are several candidate vaccines heading towards clinical trials.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said Uganda had registered over 150 confirmed and probable cases, including 64 fatalities.

President Yoweri Museveni imposed a 21-day lockdown on Mubende and neighbouring Kassanda on October 15, but has said that nationwide curbs were not needed.

On Saturday, Health Minister Ruth Jane Aceng told AFP that “the lockdown of Mubende and Kassanda districts … will be extended for another 21 days.”

These include a dusk-to-dawn curfew, a ban on personal travel and the closure of markets, bars and churches.

“We urge the public to comply and remain vigilant,” she added.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids, with common symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

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Museveni has also ordered the police to arrest anyone infected with Ebola who refuses to isolate.

WHO on Wednesday warned that there was a high risk of Ebola spreading further and called on neighbouring countries to boost their preparedness.