What you need to know:
- Uganda declared the Ebola Virus Disease - Sudan strain outbreak on September 20 following a positive test result for one adult male in Mubende District on September 19. As of November 18, there have been a total of 141 confirmed cases, 55 deaths, and 79 recoveries.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, has warned that the government may be forced to ban travelling upcountry for Christmas should the Ebola cases increase.
Dr Aceng said her ministry is closely monitoring the Ebola infection rates and that at an appropriate time, they will advise on whether it is prudent to ban the public from travelling upcountry for Christmas.
“…we are moving into a festive season. All of you know what happens during the festive season, you see how vehicles move. Ebola moves by foot, road, buses whatever, any means of transport, Ebola moves with it. So as we move towards the festive season, Ebola will move from wherever it is,” Dr Aceng said while meeting editors of selected media houses in Kampala last Friday.
She added: “So as we continue to watch the evolution of the epidemic, if you hear us saying, please don’t go to your homes for Christmas, stand with us because if Ebola is taken to your grandparents, it will be very unfortunate. I am not saying we are going to do that, we are watching evolution, so don’t misquote me. We are watching, every day, that is why we give statistics.”
Dr Aceng appealed to the editors to ensure that correct information is reported to the public. She warned that once wrong information is published, the country could be put under lockdown.
“All of us went through the Covid pandemic, and all of you saw what happened. We had lockdowns, I don’t know whether anybody loves lockdowns. I have heard several complaints from Mubende and Kassanda. They are not even under a lockdown. It is just restrictive movements just in and out. The rest of the activities are going on as usual. Right now, we seem to be making headway in Mubende and Kassanda in spite of some wrong messages because wrong messages when propagated, the population believes it,” the minister said.
“To us, the lockdown is not important, the most important thing is life. We might lose lives. That is why we humbly request for correct reporting. When you tell the truth, the population will say there’s actually Ebola,” she added.
The meeting was organised by African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) to equip editors with basic information on the Ebola virus to enable accurate, responsible, and ethical reporting on the outbreak; to curb the spread of fake news and misinformation.