Uganda closes schools to contain Ebola outbreak

Uganda closes schools to contain Ebola outbreak

A student gets his temperature checked before boarding a chartered bus in Kampala. (file)

Kampala, Uganda:

Uganda closed schools nationwide on Friday to prevent the spread of Ebola, despite the health minister insisting to AFP that new cases had declined.

The directive to close schools two weeks before the end of term was announced earlier this month following the death of eight children from the highly contagious disease.

But in recent weeks, there has been a decline in the number of new infections registered in the capital Kampala and the epicenters of Mubende and Kasanda, Health Minister Jane Ruth Ekeng told AFP.

“The great success for Uganda in this fight against Ebola is that communities have realized that Ebola is deadly and it kills,” she said.

“We encourage the population to be vigilant and cooperate with the health teams if we are to win this battle and the signs are that Uganda is winning,” he added.

The WHO Uganda office said on Thursday that as of 22 November, no cases had been declared for nine days in Kampala, 10 days in Mubende and 12 days in Kasanda.

The outbreak has killed 55 people out of 141 cases, according to Ugandan officials who have imposed a lockdown in Mubende and Kasanda.

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

At a school in Kampala, a parent told AFP he was relieved to be able to take his child home.

Banker Joab Barayaka said, “I think this early closure was really necessary because of the Ebola situation in the country.”

“We are confident that they are safer with us than they would be at school, where we cannot guarantee the situation.”

Since the outbreak was declared in Mubende on 20 September, the disease has spread through the East African country.

President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly refused to impose Covid-like restrictions across the country.

According to WHO criteria, a disease outbreak ends when there are no new cases for 42 consecutive days – twice the incubation period of the disease.

The strain currently circulating is known as Sudan Ebola virus, for which there is no vaccine, although several vaccines are moving towards clinical trials.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids. Fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea are common symptoms.

Containing outbreaks is difficult, especially in urban environments.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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