UGANDA – The president of Uganda, Hon Yoweri Museveni, has extended a six-week lockdown on two districts at the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak that has claimed 55 lives but said its spread was being curbed.

The two central districts at the heart of the outbreak, Mubende and Kassanda, were placed under a 21-day lockdown on October 15.

The measures, including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, a ban on personal travel, and the closure of markets, bars and churches, were extended November 5 by another 21 days.

Museveni ordered that the lockdown on Mubende and Kassanda to be renewed for 21 days, describing the situation as “still fragile.”

The most affected district remains Mubende with 64 (45%) confirmed cases and 29 (53%) confirmed deaths, followed by Kassanda with 48 (34%) confirmed cases and 20 (36%) confirmed deaths. Two districts, Bunyangabu and Kagadi, have not reported cases for more than 42 days.

“If we open now and a case appears, we will have destroyed all the gains made in this war,” Museveni said in a national address read by his deputy, Jessica Alupo.

“I therefore appeal for calm and understanding. Our health workers will continue to do all it takes to save lives and bring the epidemic to an end.”

According to WHO criteria, an outbreak of the disease ends when there are no new cases for 42 consecutive days, twice the incubation period of Ebola.

Since the outbreak was declared September 20, Ebola has spread across Uganda and reached the capital Kampala, though health authorities said that the case numbers were falling.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng recently said that the number of new cases being registered was declining and there were signs Uganda is “winning” the fight.

Museveni said it was too early to celebrate “but overall, I have been briefed that the picture is good.”

The outbreak has claimed 55 lives out of 141 cases, the country’s health ministry said Friday.

Ebola spreads through bodily fluids. Common symptoms are fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea.

The strain now circulating is known as the Sudan Ebola virus, for which there is no vaccine, although several potential jabs are heading toward clinical trials.

Although there is significant improvement in surveillance activities in most affected districts, contact tracing gaps have been reported in newly affected districts.

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