KAMPALA — President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday opened up the districts of Mubende and Kassanda, which had been under lockdown for over two months as the country ‘s devised measures to evade the spread of the Ebola epidemic.
Since authorities declared an Ebola outbreak September 20, the East African nation had registered 142 confirmed cases, with 56 deaths as fears that the disease could spread to the capital, Kampala escalated.
The two central districts at the heart of the outbreak, Mubende and Kassanda, were placed under a lockdown on October, 15.
But on Saturday, Vice President Jessica Alupo – standing-in for his boss announced that the government was ‘lifting all movement restrictions and curfew in Mubende and Kassanda districts with immediate effect.’
The two hotspots were under a dusk-to-dawn curfew, with markets, bars and churches closed as well as personal travel banned.
“The lifting of the restrictions is based on the fact that currently there is no transmission, no contact under follow-up, no patients in the isolation facilities, and we are progressing well,” said Alupo in a televised address.
Ugandan authorities said last month that new cases were falling, and the last confirmed patient with the disease was discharged from hospital on November, 30.
Alupa warned however that the government remained on ‘high alert’ for any resurgence in cases.
The announcement came after local leaders in the two districts appealed last month for the lockdown to be lifted and implored the central government to provide aid to citizens hit hard by the curbs on business.
The outbreak has been caused by the Sudan strain of the virus, for which there is currently no vaccine.
Uganda earlier this month received its first shipment of trial vaccines against the Sudan strain, with more doses expected in the coming weeks.
However, the absence of active Ebola cases in recent days has held up the vaccine trials, according to international health experts working in Uganda.
According to the World Health Organizstion, an outbreak of the disease ends when there are no new cases for 42 consecutive days — twice the incubation period of Ebola.
Ebola spreads through bodily fluids. Common symptoms are fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea.
Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.
As soon as Alupo had announced the lifting of the lockdown, residents in the two districts went into wild celebrations, leaving their houses for streets for those, who live in the urban centres.
Mubende streets; High Way, 1st Link Road, 2nd Link Road, Lubanga Road, and Main Street among others became active as residents danced in celebrating the lifting of the lockdown.