Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has declared an immediate three-week lockdown in two high risk districts as the country battles a rise in Ebola infections.
All movement in and out of the Mubende and Kassanda districts will be halted, Museveni said in a televised address on Saturday – although cargo trucks will be allowed to enter and leave the areas.
Curfews will also be imposed. Places of worship, bars, gyms, saunas and other entertainment venues will close but schools will remain open, he added.
“Given the gravity of the problem and to prevent further spread and protect lives and livelihoods, the government is taking extra measures that require action from all of us,” Museveni said.
The Ugandan health ministry will also increase contact tracing and assistance to local health facilities.
Ebola infections grow in Uganda as death toll rises to 23
Ebola is a rare but deadly disease. It spreads through direct contact with body fluids and is not transmitted through airborne viral particles, the the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
It has no cure, and there is no approved vaccine, although there is a concerted effort to create one.
Speaking at a media briefing earlier this month, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the vaccines used successfully to curb recent Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not effective against the type of Ebola virus now circulating in Uganda.
“However, several vaccines are in various stages of development against this virus, two of which could begin clinical trials in Uganda in the coming weeks, pending regulatory and ethics approvals from the Ugandan government,” said Tedros.
Uganda has experienced four Ebola outbreaks. The deadliest left more than 200 people dead in 2000.
Museveni declared an Ebola outbreak in September after a case of the relatively rare Sudan strain was confirmed and cases began to rise across districts.
The latest outbreak has so far killed 29 amid 63 recorded cases.
According to the CDC, a person infected with Ebola “is not contagious until symptoms appear (including fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, and unexplained bleeding).”
The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids and is not transmitted through airborne viral particles, the CDC says.