Why gov’t extended lockdown in Ebola epicentre districts for another 21 days

The outbreak epicenter remains Mubende and Kassanda districts. Specifically, in Mubende district, the most affected sub counties are; Madudu, Kiruuma, and Eastern Division of the municipality. While in Kasanda; the sub county of Kalwana and specifically Kikandwa parish is the most affected.

On the 15th of October, President Yoweri Museveni directed the restriction of movements into and out of Kasanda and Mubende districts.

The lockdown was supposed to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (Sudan strain) outbreak which had been declared by the health ministry on 20th September 2022 in Mubende district.

The President also issued other containment measures that were undertaken through a multi-sectoral approach to control the Ebola Epidemic for 21 days. The 21 days elapsed on Friday 4th November 2021.

The virus has since spread from Mubende to cause havoc in the districts of Mubende, Kasanda, Kagadi, Bunyangabu, Kyegegwa, Wakiso, Kampala City and most recently Masaka district.

Since its outbreak, a total of 132 people have been confirmed positive for Ebola, 61 have recovered while 53 have succumbed to the disease.

A total of 18 confirmed cases are still admitted and receiving treatment at both the Mubende and Entebbe Ebola Treatment Units.

Lockdown extended in epicentre districts

But while the President has assured the country that there will be no lockdown in Kampala and other parts of the country, he extended the lockdown in Mubende and Kassanda for another 21 days.

The extension was announced by the minister of health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng. The minister said the decision to extend the lockdown was reached after the National Taskforce evaluated the situation in the two districts as well as Kampala metropolitan area.

The minister said the lockdown was put in place to give an opportunity to the various ministries, departments and agencies together with partners to optimise control efforts in the two districts and minimize spread to other areas.

The minister said that while great work has been done, there is still evidence of transmission in these epicentre districts.

Need for lockdown extension

“In Mubende, the number of cases have slightly reduced because of the vigilance of the population after understanding the dangers of Ebola and their determination to end the epidemic,” a thankful Aceng said noting that more work still needs to be done for the district to be completely free of Ebola.

“However, in Kasanda, progress has been slow because of challenges of a weak health system, myths, misinformation and belief in witchcraft coupled with the unbecoming behaviour of exhumation of dead bodies to perform cultural rituals.

For example, from only one exhumed body, up to 43 persons have since been infected with Ebola, 6 of whom have succumbed to the disease. Hence the number of cases in Kasanda are still rising, she revealed.

Govt committed to ending Ebola

The government has said it is doing all that is possible to control this outbreak and called for calm. There is no need for anxiety or panic, the minister said.

The situation in Kampala metropolitan area remains under control as the ministry of health and its partners continue to sensitize the population and follow up on all the contacts.

“Our healthcare workers will continue to do all it takes to save lives and bring the epidemic to an end. I call upon the public to cooperate with the healthcare workers and report anybody with signs and symptoms similar to that of Ebola early enough to improve survival of the patients but also to protect the rest of the population,” the minister said.

Adding: “Do not run away to another district when you have had contact. You run away with the disease and you will eventually die. In addition, spreading the disease to the other parts of the country exposes many people to infection and makes the epidemic more difficult to control,”

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