Uganda announces lockdown as Ebola cases rise


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has imposed an immediate three-week lockdown in two high-risk districts as the country grapples with a surge in Ebola infections.

All movement in and out of Mubende and Kassanda districts will be suspended, Museveni said in a televised address on Saturday, although cargo trucks will be allowed to enter and leave the areas.

Limits will also be set. Places of worship, bars, gyms, saunas and other recreational facilities will be closed, but schools will remain open, he added.

“Given the seriousness of the problem and to prevent further spread and to protect lives and livelihoods, the government is taking additional measures that require everyone’s participation,” Museveni said.

Uganda’s health ministry will also increase contact tracing and support for local health facilities.

Ebola is a rare but deadly disease. It is spread by direct contact with body fluids and is not transmitted by airborne viral particles, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It has no cure, and there is no approved vaccine, although efforts have been made to create one.

In a press conference earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the vaccines used successfully to reduce recent Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo are not effective against the Ebola virus circulating in Uganda.

“However, several vaccines against this virus are in various stages of development, two of which may begin clinical trials in Uganda in the coming weeks, pending regulatory and ethical approvals from the Ugandan government,” Tedros said.

Uganda has had four Ebola outbreaks. The deadliest killed more than 200 people in 2000.

Museveni declared an Ebola outbreak in September after Sudan confirmed a case of the relatively rare strain and cases began to rise in the districts.

The latest outbreak has so far killed 29 out of 63 recorded cases.

According to the CDC, a person infected with Ebola “is not contagious until symptoms appear (including fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, and unexplained bleeding).”

The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids and is not transmitted by airborne viral particles, the CDC says.