21 Ebola deaths reported in Uganda as virus grips seven districts

The latest data by Uganda’s Ministry of Health shows that a total of 34 people have contracted the highly contagious Ebola virus in the country, while deaths attributable to the outbreak stand at 21.

Uganda’s spokesperson at the Ministry of Health, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona has said the cumulative cases which stand at 34, the 16 are laboratory confirmed while 18 are probable. Similarly, of the 21 deaths, four are confirmed while 17 are probable.   

Meanwhile, the Ebola National task force is yet to locate seven suspected Ebola patients who reportedly escaped from the surveillance health teams in Mubende District, the epicenter of the disease.

The seven, according to authorities, are among the contacts that are supposed to be at the Ebola isolation centre but escaped from the health teams before they could get to the Centre.

While delivering his message at the national taskforce meeting at Mubende District headquarters on Saturday 24, Lt Col Henry Kyobe, the Ebola incident commander, said they are tracing 213 contacts, as they raise concern over the gaps in contact tracing.

“As we speak today, we have 213 cumulative contacts. Contact tracing is still a challenge. The biggest proportion numbering 118 (55 percent) are health workers, meaning that community contacts have not all been listed which creates a challenge. We may actually have cases that emerge outside our conference,” he said.

Read also: The end of Covid-19 pandemic is in sight – WHO

The ministry has appealed to Ugandans to continue adhering to the laid down curbs and report any suspected cases to nearby health facilities or authorities, even as the samples from suspected cases are being analyzed at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

Authorities first declared an outbreak, attributed to the relatively rare Ebola Sudan strain, in the central district of Mubende in early September. The outbreak has so far spread to Kassanda, Kampala, Kisoro, Kakumiro, Mubende, Kyegegwa, and Lyantonde districts.

Last week health officials and civic leaders suspended operations of entertainment centres and limited the number of people attending burials and weddings in Mubende District as they race to curb the spread of the virus.

According to the head of the Ebola taskforce in Mubende, allowing gatherings to continue would be risking people’s lives as the virus spreads rapidly through physical contact.

At present, there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighbouring countries.

The World Health Organization says the Ebola Sudan strain is less transmissible and has shown a lower fatality rate in previous outbreaks than Ebola Zaire, a strain that killed nearly 2,300 people in the 2018-2020 epidemic in the DRC.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people.

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