Ebola lockdowns are EXTENDED for another three weeks in Uganda as killer virus keeps spreading
- Ebola was detected on September 19 in Uganda and has spread to seven regions
- More than 130 cases and 50 deaths confirmed across the east African country
- Officials on Saturday extended lockdowns in two areas by another three weeks
Covid-style lockdowns have been extended in Ebola-stricken Uganda as the deadly virus continues to spread.
More than 50 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak started in the central district of Mubende in mid-September. Ebola has since spread to six other parts of the east African nation, including the capital Kampala.
Officials imposed a three-week lockdown on Mubende and neighbouring Kassanda on October 15.
Restrictions were due to end on Saturday but officials extended them for another three weeks.
It means more than 400,000 people have been ordered not to leave their homes overnight or travel for personal reasons. Markets, bars and churches have also been closed.
World Health Organization bosses say there is a high risk of Ebola spreading further and have called on neighbouring countries to boost their preparedness.
There are no drugs or vaccines proven to work against the circulating Sudan strain, which Uganda hadn’t detected since 2012.
Since the outbreak was detected in the central district of Mubende on September 19, the disease has spread to six other parts of the east African nation, including the capital Kampala (red areas). Two regions, Mubende and Kassanda (lock symbol) have been in lockdown since October 15 which has been extended by three weeks
The World Health Organization graph shows the number of Ebola cases per day, based on when patients’ symptoms first started. The bars are split into those who are alive (blue) and those who have died (red)
A medical worker disinfects a tent used for suspected Ebola victims at Madudu Health Center III in Madudu, Mubende on November 1
A man wearing protective clothing carries water to wash the interior of an ambulance used to transport suspected Ebola victims, in Kassanda on November 1
People, pictured at a football pitch in Mubende on November 1, waiting for a food distribution from a truck aimed to help those affected by the travel restrictions imposed in an attempt to limit the spread of Ebola
Health Minister Ruth Jane Aceng said that the lockdown in Mubende and Kassanda ‘will be extended for another 21 days’.
She said: ‘These include a dusk-to-dawn curfew, a ban on personal travel and the closure of markets, bars and churches.
‘We urge the public to comply and remain vigilant.’
President Yoweri Museveni ordered the initial local lockdowns but has rejected calls for nationwide curbs.
However, he has ordered the police to arrest anyone infected with Ebola who refuses to isolate.
The country’s latest daily Ebola update shows that 132 cases and 51 deaths had been confirmed by Saturday. This gives a case-fatality ratio of 39 per cent.
The majority of cases detected so far have been in Mubende (65), located 90 miles (145km) west of Kampala.
Other hotspots are Kassanda (41), 30 miles (50km) east of Mubende, and Kampala itself (18).
The cases in the capital have caused alarm as they are spread out across the city — raising fears the virus is spreading undetected.
On top of these confirmed cases, virus teams are monitoring more than 1,200 close contacts in seven parts of the country.
It comes after the WHO warned last week that there is a ‘high’ risk of the virus spreading to neighbouring countries, including Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The UN agency is helping nearby nations to prepare for an outbreak, training rapid response teams and lab staff, as well as boosting virus surveillance systems.
The WHO warned there is a ‘very high’ risk of a ‘serious public health impact’ in Uganda and a ‘high’ risk about neighbouring countries. However, it said the global risk was ‘low’.
It is in discussions about rolling out vaccines in Uganda that are being developed to work against the Sudan strain of Ebola.
Three vaccines are under review, with committees in the east African nation currently reviewing the proposals.
The first fatality in the current outbreak was a 24-year-old man in Mubende. Deaths have also included a pupil, as well as a mother and unborn baby.
Princess Anne, sister of King Charles, toured Uganda a fortnight ago and spent time in Kampala and further afield.
The Princess Royal has previously been said to be comfortable visiting places where she is could catch an illnesses and the risk does not put her off.
Ebola is an often-fatal viral haemorrhagic fever named after a river in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it was discovered in 1976.
The virus is mainly transmitted through exposure to bodily fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.
It naturally resides in fruit bats, monkeys and porcupines living in the rainforest, and can also be transmitted through eating uncooked ‘bushmeat’.
Ebola outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.
People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.
WHAT IS EBOLA AND HOW DEADLY IS IT?
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, killed at least 11,000 across the world after it decimated West Africa and spread rapidly over the space of two years.
That epidemic was officially declared over back in January 2016, when Liberia was announced to be Ebola-free by the WHO.
The country, rocked by back-to-back civil wars that ended in 2003, was hit the hardest by the fever, with 40 per cent of the deaths having occurred there.
Sierra Leone reported the highest number of Ebola cases, with nearly of all those infected having been residents of the nation.
WHERE DID IT BEGIN?
An analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the outbreak began in Guinea – which neighbours Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A team of international researchers were able to trace the epidemic back to a two-year-old boy in Meliandou – about 400 miles (650km) from the capital, Conakry.
Emile Ouamouno, known more commonly as Patient Zero, may have contracted the deadly virus by playing with bats in a hollow tree, a study suggested.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE STRUCK DOWN?
Figures show nearly 29,000 people were infected from Ebola – meaning the virus killed around 40 per cent of those it struck.
Cases and deaths were also reported in Nigeria, Mali and the US – but on a much smaller scale, with 15 fatalities between the three nations.
Health officials in Guinea reported a mysterious bug in the south-eastern regions of the country before the WHO confirmed it was Ebola.
Ebola was first identified by scientists in 1976, but the most recent outbreak dwarfed all other ones recorded in history, figures show.
HOW DID HUMANS CONTRACT THE VIRUS?
Scientists believe Ebola is most often passed to humans by fruit bats, but antelope, porcupines, gorillas and chimpanzees could also be to blame.
It can be transmitted between humans through blood, secretions and other bodily fluids of people – and surfaces – that have been infected.
IS THERE A TREATMENT?
The WHO warns that there is ‘no proven treatment’ for Ebola – but dozens of drugs and jabs are being tested in case of a similarly devastating outbreak.
Hope exists though, after an experimental vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, protected nearly 6,000 people. The results were published in The Lancet journal.
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