Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said contacts and suspected contacts of Ebola patients will not be allowed to leave the country in order to prevent the disease from spreading to other countries.
He said a list of confirmed contacts has been given to the immigration authorities who will prevent them from international travel.
The country has also started screening people at airports and land border points of entry for temperature, symptoms and history of contact.
during his fourth televised address to the country since the outbreak of Ebola in September, President Museveni said that his Uganda’s efforts to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola disease are starting to pay off as few new cases are currently being recorded as compared to how the situation was a few weeks ago.
As of Wednesday, there are 141 confirmed cases. Fifty five of these have died while 73 have recovered and 13 are admitted to the Ebola treatment units.
Two districts of Kassandra and Mubende, which are the epicentres of the outbreak, are currently under lockdown, with public transport restricted to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the country.
“In the past 21 days, the number of new cases has reduced to an average of three per day. This was because of intensifying control interventions which included door-to-door sensitisation of the communities by the village health teams, training of the health workers on infection prevention control in both public and private health facilities, safe dignified burials of all deceased in the communities and hospitals, and early treatment of cases at the Ebola treatment units,” Mr Museveni said.
Since these interventions were instituted, Mubende district, which recorded the first case and is regarded as a high-risk area, has not recorded a new Ebola case for the past 18 days.
However, even with the efforts in place, many people, especially from high-risk areas, continue to flout the rules, which has seen the disease reach six districts across the country currently. A case was recently reported in Jinja, 80km east of Kampala, on Saturday. Two more people have succumbed to the disease in the area.
According to President Museveni, progress in containing the disease is being hindered by, among other things, a passenger relay system by boda bodas that allows contacts to escape areas under lockdown and subsequently spread the disease, frequent visits to traditional healers, myths, misconceptions, and misinformation, and escape by Ebola contacts under quarantine.
In his Tuesday address, the president ordered the Ministry of Health and local government leaders to intensify sensitisation of the boda boda riders on the dangers of aiding contacts to leave places under lockdown.
Traditional healers barred
He added that all traditional healers and witchdoctors have been prohibited from carrying out their activities and that trucks carrying logs, which have been discreetly transporting people, are prohibited from moving into and out of Mubende and Kassandra districts with immediate effect for the next 21 days.
The president noted that reports from the tourism sector players indicate that tourists have been cancelling their trips to Uganda and that some have even postponed their bookings in hotels and lodges due to the Ebola outbreak. In addition, several international conferences and meetings have been postponed and some moved to other countries due to the outbreak.
“I would like to reassure the international community, tourists and conference organisers and the entire Ugandan population that the government has put in place measures to control the outbreak. The Ebola outbreak is localised to only six out of the 146 districts. Uganda remains safe and we welcome international guests,” Mr Museveni said.