Ugandan authorities on Saturday lifted a two-month curfew in two districts at the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak that has killed 56 people, reporting progress in the fight against the viral hemorrhagic fever.
The two districts in question, Mubende and Kassanta, were locked down by President Yoweri Museveni on October 15. Since September 20, the East African country has reported 142 confirmed cases and 56 deaths, with the epidemic even reaching the capital, Kampala.
On Saturday, Vice President Jessica Alubo, speaking on television on behalf of the head of state, announced that she would “remove all movement restrictions and immediately lift the curfew in Mubende and Kasanda districts”.
These two regions in the center of the country lived for two months under strict lockdown, including a night curfew, a ban on private travel and the closure of markets, bars and churches.
“Currently there is no spread of the disease, there is no contact under contact, there is no isolated patient, and we are making good progress,” the vice president said.
However, he insisted the government was on “high alert” for a possible revival.
The announcement comes after local officials called for the lifting of restrictions in November, asking the government to provide aid to people affected by the restrictions.
In early December, the first dose of one of the Ebola vaccine candidates arrived in Uganda.
The World Health Organization (WHO) believes the country has “started the countdown” towards the end of the pandemic.
The disease has re-emerged in central Uganda, with the first case from a strain known as “Sudanis” reported on September 20 in Mubende District. Since then, 56 people have died from the virus, with a total of 142 infected.
Ebola is an often fatal viral hemorrhagic fever. The disease takes its name from a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it was discovered in 1976.
Uganda has had six episodes of Ebola, the last of which was in 2019. Four of them were caused by the Sudan strain.
Since 2000, the WHO has recorded 32 Ebola outbreaks, killing 11,300 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.