Uganda declares end to deadly Ebola outbreak that killed 55 people


Uganda ended its outbreak of the Ebola virus on Wednesday. (representative)

Mubende, Uganda:

Uganda on Wednesday ended an outbreak of the Ebola virus that emerged nearly four months ago and killed 55 people.

“We have successfully contained the Ebola outbreak in Uganda,” Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said at a ceremony in the central district of Mubende, where the disease was first detected in September.

The move was confirmed in a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO), whose chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the East African country’s “robust and comprehensive response” to the widely feared haemorrhagic fever.

Ms Aceng said January 11 marked 113 days since the start of the epidemic, which also spread to the capital, Kampala.

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

“Uganda quickly ended the Ebola outbreak by stepping up key control measures such as surveillance, contact tracing and infection, prevention and control,” the WHO quoted the minister as saying.

“As we expanded our efforts to mount a strong response in the nine affected counties, the miraculous bullet was our communities understanding the importance of doing what was necessary to end the outbreak, and taking action. ”

Two districts at the epicenter of the epidemic, Mubende and Kassanda, were put on lockdown for two months until mid-December, but the government did not impose similar measures nationwide.

The WHO said there were a total of 142 confirmed cases, 55 confirmed deaths and 87 recovered patients, with children among the victims.

The outbreak in Uganda was caused by the Sudan Ebola virus, one of the six strains of the Ebola virus and for which there is currently no confirmed vaccine.

Three candidate vaccines — one developed by Oxford University and the Jenner Institute in Britain, another from the Sabin Vaccine Institute in the United States, and a third from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) — are being tested in Uganda.

‘Dark shadow’ lifted

“Uganda has shown that Ebola can be defeated if the whole system works together, from having an early warning system in place, to finding and caring for affected people and their contacts, to getting affected communities’ full participation in the response,” he said. Tedros. said the WHO statement.

The last confirmed patient was discharged from the hospital on Nov. 30, according to health officials.

“Two months ago, it looked like Ebola would cast a dark shadow over the country well into 2023, when the outbreak reached major cities such as Kampala and Jinja, but this win kicks off the year with great hope for Africa,” the regional director said. of the WHO for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.

Ms Aceng said it was the seventh outbreak of the disease in Uganda and the fifth caused by the Sudan virus.

“The source of this outbreak, as with many others, is still unknown,” she said at the ceremony.

Ebola is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly called Zaire, where it was discovered in 1976.

The previous outbreak in Uganda, which shares a porous border with the DRC, was in 2019 when at least five people died.

Human transmission occurs through bodily fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, that is, after an incubation period of two to 21 days.

The deadliest epidemic occurred in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, killing more than 11,300 people.

The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest of which claimed the lives of 2,280 people in 2020.

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

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