Uganda announces lockdown as Ebola cases rise, says death toll to over 300
The Ugandan government on Wednesday announced a three week lockdown for the entire country, as new cases of the deadly Ebola virus emerged in the capital and other parts of the country, with the death toll over 300.
Officials say there have been over 300 cases of the virus in the country so far this year, making it the second deadliest year in the history of the disease, which has killed more than 11,000 people.
The disease has also been highly lethal in pregnant women, a group that until this year has been largely spared from Ebola but is now being affected as the outbreak spreads.
The outbreak has also been blamed for a two month period in which an estimated half of a million people fled their homes in Uganda to escape the epidemic and the consequent cholera outbreak.
In a press conference, health minister David Bahati said people would be allowed to leave the country only if they had a doctor’s certificate showing they had been exposed to the virus and had a blood test confirming the infection.
The minister said people who had been to any contact with the infected would be allowed to return to their homes, but those who had been out only in the capital Kampala would be allowed to leave only if they had not been on contact with the sick.
Bahati says people who have travelled to any of the four affected countries in Africa will be subject to a 14-day quarantine, and those returning to Uganda will have to register at a checkpoint for the 14 day period.
Officials said those who do not register will be refused entry to the country.
Health workers at the checkpoints and registration centres are being directed to perform a one-touch Ebola screening on those entering the country, while those who are infected will be quarantined for 14 days.
The outbreak started in the small town of Bikiriga, 100km north West of the capital