Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has declared an immediate three-week lockdown in two high-risk districts as the country battles a surge in Ebola infections.
All movements in and out of Mubende and Kassanda districts will be halted, Museveni said in a televised address on Saturday – although trucks are allowed to enter and exit the areas.
Curfews are also imposed. Places of worship, bars, gyms, saunas and other entertainment venues will be closed, but schools will remain open, he added.
“Given the seriousness of the problem and to prevent further spread and protect lives and livelihoods, the government is taking additional measures that require action from all of us,” Museveni said.
The Ugandan Ministry of Health will also increase contact tracing and support to local health facilities.
Ebola is a rare but deadly disease. It spreads through direct contact with body fluids and is not transmitted by airborne virus particles, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There is no cure, and there is no approved vaccine, although there are concerted efforts to develop one.
At a news conference earlier this month, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the vaccines that have been used successfully to contain recent Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not effective against the type of Ebola virus currently found circulated in Uganda.
“However, there are several vaccines against this virus in various stages of development, two of which could begin clinical trials in Uganda in the coming weeks, pending regulatory and ethical approvals from the Ugandan government,” Tedros said.
Uganda has experienced four Ebola outbreaks. The deadliest killed more than 200 people 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 in the districts.
The latest outbreak has so far killed 29 people in 63 registered 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 by airborne virus particles, the CDC said.