Uganda rules out possible lockdown as Ebola death toll hits 7

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The death toll from an Ebola outbreak in Uganda has risen to seven, the health ministry said Friday, after President Yoweri Museveni ruled out a lockdown to contain the highly contagious virus.

Authorities declared an outbreak in the central district of Mubende last week, the East African nation’s first Ebola fatality since 2019.

On Friday, the health ministry shared a graphic on Twitter showing that the cumulative deaths were now seven, up from five on Wednesday, while the total number of confirmed cases had reached 35.

In a televised press briefing on Wednesday, Museveni said some 19 others classified as probable Ebola cases had also died, but said they were buried before they could be tested for infection.

Since the initial outbreak was discovered in Mubende, infections have been found in three other districts – Kassanda, Kyegegwa and Kagadi – but Museveni vowed not to cordon off the affected regions.

“We decided that we shall not have lockdowns. It is not necessary,” the 78-year-old leader said, telling Ugandans that there was “no need for anxiety”.

Ebola is an often-fatal viral haemorrhagic fever named after a river in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it was discovered in 1976.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.