Uganda imposes new restrictions to contain Ebola outbreak

Uganda imposes new restrictions to contain Ebola outbreak
Health workers in Mubende District prepare to transport the body of an Ebola victim for burial on September 20, 2022.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has banned trucks carrying timber logs from entering or leaving Mubende and Kassanda districts, the epiceter of the Ebola outbreak in the country.

In a televised address to the country on Tuesday 15, November, 2022 night, President Museveni said although he had allowed the movement of trucks carrying cargo including timber, some of the drivers have abused the window and instead engaged in transportation of people which has led to the spread of Ebola to districts such as Wakiso, Kampala, Masaka and Jinja.

“All trucks carrying logs are restricted into Kassanda and Mubende for 21 days with immediate effect. If the operators of these trucks were sensitizing their drivers not to mix with people but to camp like we used to do with Kenya drivers during Covid But they are not doing that therefore, for now, don’t move into or out of Kassanda and Mubende districts,” Mr Museveni said.

President Museveni said although they had made progress in Mubende district where the rate of infections reduced from five cases to three cases per day during the first 21 days of lockdown in the area, the same cannot be said of Kassanda district where an average of five cases continued to be registered daily.

He attributed this to the continued carrying of passengers by Boda Bodas, Ebola contacts visiting traditional healers, misconceptions and myths among others.

Mr Museveni warned that if boda bodas don’t stop carrying people, he will be forced to totally ban their movement with or without cargo. The president also ostracised those who are hiding behind religious or cultural beliefs and exhume bodies in the guise of giving them proper burial. This he said is not accepted and must stop.

“In one family, 11 people died because of exhuming a dead body in order to carry out rituals. Those hiding behind religion to commit such mistakes, should know that God is the one who created science. I don’t know about the Quran; but the Imams should explain whether there is a direction in the Quran on the spread of a disease,” Museveni said.

President Museveni has had issue with the leaders of Kassanda district whom he said have not done enough to mobilize the people to fight the virus.

“They voted for useless people in Kassanda; the leaders who would help are not there, they voted for enemies who want people to die. In Mubende the leaders played a positive role,” Mr Museveni said.

He also reiterated his ban on the trade by traditional leaders during the ongoing epidemic. He said the actions of these traditional leaders and some religious leaders is also perpetuating the spread of the deadly haemorrhagic fever.

“When you cooperate and you alert the health system early your chances of surviving are much higher. Therefore, those who are trying to hide, you can’t hide away from Ebola there is no way you can hide and go and see these lairs who call themselves traditional healers and the religious leaders who have also become like traditional healers who are lying,” President Museveni said.

According to the President, so far, 55 people have died and 73 have recovered from the Ebola virus which has now been confirmed in six districts; Masaka, Jinja, Kampala, Mubende, Kassanda and Wakiso.

He however said despite this, the Ministry of Health is in control of the situation and tourists don’t have to cancel their visits to Uganda because of the Ebola outbreak. He stressed that the Ebola outbreak is localized to only 6 out of the 146 districts in Uganda.

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“I have been informed that tourists have been canceling their trips to Uganda and some have even postponed their bookings in hotels and lodges due to the Ebola outbreak. Furthermore, international conferences and meetings have been postponed and some moved to other countries due to the Ebola outbreak. This is most unfortunate,” he said.

He said the Government is doing all it takes to control this epidemic and avoid exportation outside Uganda.

“In this regard, the list of Ebola contacts has been availed to the Immigration Authorities to prevent them from international travel. In addition, there is screening at the airport and land border points of entry for temperature, symptoms and history of contact.”

He reassured the international community, tourists and conference organizers and the entire Ugandan population, that the Government of Uganda has put in place measures to control the Ebola outbreak.