Govt rules out lockdown for Mubende over Ebola

Health teams at Mubende Regional Hospital prepare facilities at the Ebola isolation centre on September 24, 2022. PHOTO/DAN WANDERA

What you need to know:

  • The government is instead rallying the population to follow health guidelines and remain vigilant. 

The government has ruled out the possibility of imposing a lockdown on Mubende District, the epicentre of the Ebola Sudan strain, opting for strict adherence to health guidelines at both public and private facilities.

The Health minister, Dr Ruth Aceng, at the weekend clarified that the government would not restrict people’s movement and close public places.

The government is instead rallying the population to follow strict health guidelines, remain vigilant, and collaborate with the health personnel.

“Markets, schools, and shops will remain open. Send the children to school but remain vigilant and cooperate with the health teams on ground,” she said.

The minister was addressing community leaders and the Ebola taskforce team at St Joseph Technical Institute playground in Mubende.

Her communication came as a relief to a section of district leaders that had earlier expressed fear of a likely lockdown as a measure to counter the transmission of Ebola.

The Ebola National Taskforce had by yesterday recorded 16 confirmed Ebola cases, 18 probable, and 21 deaths (four confirmed, 17 probable), with a cumulative contact persons numbering 213 as a result of the Ebola Sudan strain first confirmed on September 19 in Mubende.

The announcement followed a series of concerns raised by a section of the leaders on the likely implications of the Ebola pandemic guidelines for areas that are populated, including the mining area at Kiruuma Sub-county. 

The leaders had earlier also hinted on the thinly spread health teams following up the contact persons at the respective suspected areas in Madudu, Kasambya and Kiruuma sub-counties.

Leaders had also expressed a fear about the readiness of the taskforce at the refugee camps in Kyegegwa following the three probable cases in the district  that are now at the Ebola isolation centre in Mubende.

Mr Happy Cleophas, the Lubimbiri Sub-county councillor in Mubende, had earlier claimed that a section of parents in his area had by last Thursday withdrawn their children from school.

“The parents are in fear and several had decided to withdraw their children from school for fear of the deadly Ebola virus. We need a reassurance that the children will be safe and that we shall not have restrictions on movement,” he said.

Dr Aceng said while the government and partners are working round the clock to have the Ebola Sudan strain contained, the leaders at the respective levels have the duty to talk to the population and relay the right information that does not promote panic.

“Tell our people that when the disease is detected early, the chances of treating and getting better are high. The health teams are on ground to disseminate all the information that is required,” she said.

Summary of cases

Lt Col Dr Henry Kyobe, an epidemiologist and incident commander, in his September 24 situation report said 15 cases had been confirmed and 16 were probable.  Authorities confirmed that the number of admissions at the Ebola Treatment Unit, Mubende Regional Hospital was by September 24, at 40.

Both the confirmed and probable cases had presented symptoms that included, among others, vomiting, loss of appetite, bleeding, difficulty in breathing, and headache, Dr Kyobe said on Saturday. 

On September 19, the government declared the outbreak of the Ebola Sudan strain in Mubende after confirmatory tests conducted turned out positive.