President Yoweri Museveni has lifted the Ebola-inspired lockdown that had been imposed Mubende and Kassanda districts since October 15.
In a message read by vice president Jessica Alupo, there have been no more admissions in the two districts which recorded the majority of 142 cases. As of Saturday, she said there were also no more contacts of the confirmed cases under follow-up, noting that the country has now gone 24 days of the required 42 days to be declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO). The last known Ebola patient was discharged from hospital on November 30.
While the dusk to dawn curfew has been lifted, Alupo said that treatment units including in Kampala which has completed 42 days without new cases will remain in place and health workers will also remain on standby and “high alert” to counter any resurgence in cases.
“The lifting of the restrictions is based on the fact that currently there is currently no transmission, no contact under follow-up, no patients in the isolation facilities, and we are progressing well,” Alupo said on behalf of Museveni.
She noted that monitoring of Ebola survivors and mortality surveillance which involves testing of all dead bodies in the two districts and Kampala will continue until the elapse of the 42 days which are two incubation cycles of the Ebola virus.
At the beginning of the month, Uganda received more than 1,000 doses of a trial Ebola Sudan strain vaccine. These will be used in a so-called ring vaccination trial, where all contacts of confirmed Ebola patients, and contacts of contacts, are jabbed along with frontline and health workers.
However, the absence of active Ebola cases in recent days has held up the vaccine trials, according to international health experts. In an earlier interview, Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng was asked how the reduction of cases would affect this plan since everything appeared to be set including a newly opened treatment centre in Mulago but not the study participants.
She responded that the outbreak in Uganda is not yet over until the country is declared completely disease free. Ebola spreads through bodily fluids. Common symptoms are fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea.
Additional reporting by VOA
Source: The Observer