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Uganda Goes Into Lockdown As Fatal Ebola Cases Rise

Uganda is going into lockdown, but not for COVID-19.

author

Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockOct 20 2022, 10:29 UTC
A gravedigger prepares to bury a dead person during an Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in June 2015.
Under the new measures, all burials in Uganda must be carried out by a specialized safety team. Image credit: Belen B Massieu/Shutterstock.com

Parts of Uganda have entered a three-week lockdown to help contain an Ebola outbreak that has struck the country. Uganda's President Yoweri K Museveni announced the measures on October 15, noting that people will not be able to travel in or out of Mubende and Kassanda. 

A nighttime curfew between 7:00 pm and 6:00 am will also be imposed on the two districts. All bars, gyms, entertainment venues, and places of worship will be closed, and public transport has been temporarily halted.

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Uganda declared an Ebola outbreak in September 2022 following six “suspicious deaths” in the previous month. President Museveni had reportedly been reluctant to impose a lockdown at first, noting Ebola was not an airborne virus like COVID-19. 

However, case numbers are on the up. At the time the lockdown was announced, the country had reported at least 58 confirmed cases of Ebola, of which 19 have died and 20 have recovered. 

“Last time, I spoke to you about some people that were difficult, lying to us, hijacking dead bodies, and moving from district to district including coming to Kampala City. This movement and deceit has not changed and the risk of spreading Ebola to other parts of the country remains very high.  Ebola, as you know, is highly infectious and deadly. It greatly affects the economy and tourism industry,” President Museveni said in the announcement. 

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“If not adequately controlled, Ebola may spread beyond Uganda,” he added, therefore parts of Uganda have entered a three-week lockdown to help contain the outbreak.

Ebola is a viral disease that causes blood clotting problems, leading to internal bleeding and other complications. Around half the people who contract the disease die, although case fatality rates for the Sudan species, which appears to be behind this latest outbreak in Uganda, have varied from 41 percent to 100 percent in different outbreaks. 

The infection often starts with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pains, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and unexplained bleeding.

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The disease can be spread through contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from the Ebola virus disease. Additionally, the virus is present in animal reservoirs found in sub-Saharan Africa. 

They are six known species of the ebolavirus, three of which (Bundibugyo, Sudan, and Zaire) have previously caused large outbreaks.

While effective Ebola vaccines have been developed in recent years, they have only proved effective against the more common Zaire species. It is unclear how well they performed against the Sudan species.


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