Ebola: Museveni puts Mubende, Kassanda under 21-day lockdown

President Museveni. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Several restrictive measures have been announced in the two districts, including a 7pm-6am curfew.
  • All measures in the two districts with a combined population of close to 1million people start with immediate effect and last at least 21 days.
  • However, schools in the two districts to remain open.

President Museveni has imposed a 21-day lockdown on the central Uganda districts of Mubende and Kassanda to contain an Ebola outbreak that has already claimed 19 lives in the country.

“Movements into and out of Mubende and Kassanda is prohibited,” President Museveni directed in his third quick-succession night televised address on Ebola.

Uganda’s Ebola caseload has as of October 15 climbed to nearly 60 in just a month from the time the contagious disease was confirmed in Mubende, which President Museveni partially attributed to public transport.

“There will be curfew in Mubende and Kasanda districts starting from 7pm to 6am. Public, private transport and Boda Bodas are not permitted to move in Mubende and Kasanda districts to curb Ebola,” he said.

Mr Museveni clarified that “people travelling across Mubende and Kassanda are permitted to move after police clearance and not allowed to stop or pick up a person in the two districts."

"Any cargo to be dropped in those districts shall be dropped only during the day not beyond 5pm. If someone does so, he or she stay there for 21 days," the Ugandan leader explained. 

Citing the public's non-compliance to government's guidance on controlling Ebola, President Museveni October 15 also announced a return to several other restrictive measures that were previously deployed by the State to curb the viral Covid-19. 

“Schools should remain open with strict operating procedures but any one with signs and symptoms should remain home and report to health workers for medical checkup. All places of worship and entertainment in these districts should be closed. All burials should be conducted by the health workers whether someone died from Ebola or not,” he added.

Although Ebola is often fatal, at least 20 recoveries have been posted by health authorities in Uganda.

Museveni's key talking points

  • Movement of persons within their respective district (Mubende and Kassanda) is allowed.
  • Private and public transport including Boda-bodas barred.
  • Cargo vehicles and cars supporting Ebola response teams authorized to move. 
  • Government and security vehicles permitted to move but shall not take people in and out of the two districts.
  • Transit vehicles (public and private) crossing through Mubende and Kassanda districts are permitted to move but with police clearance and shall but not allowed to stop to pick people.
  • Cargo trucks with only a driver and one turn-boy shall be allowed to deliver goods and may carry goods out of the districts but shall not carry passengers.
  • All cargo shall be delivered to the districts of Mubende and Kassanda during the day and before 5pm. Cargo truck operators will not be allowed to sleep in any of the two districts.
  • Anyone who sleeps in the districts shall remain there for 21 days.
  • All seasonal markets suspended.
  • The mines in Mubende and Kassanda remain open.
  • Schools should remain open and learners should be allowed to move when in school uniform.
  • All burials (whether Ebola or not) shall be conducted by Safe Burial Teams during this period.
  • Ministry of health to secure and deploy 20 ambulances from various districts and regional referral hospitals to the two districts for continuity of essential health services.
  • Ministry of health to mobilize and deploy 10 vans for transportation of health workers in the two districts.
  • Health workers with vehicles shall be given permits by the RDCs to move only within their districts.
  • Ministry of health to provide PPEs to all registered health facilities (private and public) in the two districts.
  • Immediate full mobilization of authorities in the Kampala metropolitan into an Ebola response mode.

About Ebola

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids, with common symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea. Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

Uganda's last recorded fatality from a previous Ebola outbreak was in 2019.

The particular strain now circulating in Uganda is known as the Sudan Ebola virus, for which there is currently no vaccine.

The World Health Organization says clinical trials could start within weeks on drugs to combat that strain.