Uganda announces lockdown as Ebola cases rise to seven
Uganda is on lockdown after coming under attack from a Ebola virus that was later contained, health officials said on Friday, citing reports of seven new cases of the hemorrhagic fever.
The lockdown is in place “until the last person,” Deputy Health Minister Jane Kapungwa said in a statement, without elaborating on the causes for the outbreak, which the Health Ministry said was limited to four people.
It was the second time in as many weeks that the virus had caused a stampede during a church service in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, and the first such stampede since 2014, when the virus spread in Mbarara, a regional capital.
The death toll for 2015 in the outbreak had been put at 8, but on Friday, it was reported that seven new cases had been registered. The previous number was seven, and Kapungwa said the total of the dead was now at 13.
“In view of the recent developments, the ministry has decided to make a public announcement. Therefore, no decision on any further movement (from the capital) will be made till further notice,” she said.
“This is necessary to ensure the safety of the people who have followed strict measures to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.”
Uganda has been hit by a series of deadly epidemics in recent years, as well as a string of deadly Ebola outbreaks in neighbouring Congo and South Sudan.
It initially dismissed all concerns over a growing Ebola outbreak in the country before announcing a lockdown in late February, following a panic caused by an earlier deadly outbreak in the western town of Beni that killed 21 people.
The epidemic, which is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, has claimed 5,843 lives — most in the eastern region, but more than a third in the west.
There has been a sharp drop in the number of new infections in western Uganda, where most of the cases have been recorded, but the risk of the outbreak spreading is high in parts of the east, where it has been spreading unchecked, and in the country’s capital.
“Even though there is a lower number of cases, we still have to take measures to contain the spread of the virus, and the ministry of health continues to closely