Uganda reports more Ebola cases, steps up control measures

Two Ebola health workers wearing protective equipment
Two Ebola health workers wearing protective equipment

UN Photo, Ari Gaitanis / Flickr cc

Over the weekend, Uganda's health ministry reported two more confirmed Ebola cases, as officials announced a 3-week lockdown for two of the affected outbreak districts.

The new cases lift the number of lab-confirmed cases to 60. So far, 24 deaths have been reported among the patients with confirmed infections. Uganda also has 20 suspected cases from earlier in the outbreak, all of them fatal.

On Oct 15, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni announced a 3-week lockdown for Mubende district, as well as neighboring Kassanda district, according to the BBC. The measure includes a curfew and the shuttering of bars, nightclubs, churches, and entertainment venues. Movement in and out of the districts has also been restricted, except for cargo trucks.

In a televised address, Museveni—who had earlier ruled out a lockdown—said the temporary measures were needed to control the spread of Ebola. The president has also forbidden traditional healers from managing Ebola cases, and the government is urging people with Ebola symptoms not to use taxis to seek medical care.

Uganda's Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, MBChB, MPH, has also warned the public not to hide someone who has been in contact with an Ebola-infected person, given the risk of further spread.

New isolation unit, vaccine news

In other developments, Ocero today announced that a new isolation facility in Madudu, built by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) with support from its partners, has been commissioned and is now admitting suspected Ebola cases.

Also, the Serum Institute of India is planning to make 20,000 to 30,000 doses of a candidate vaccine to protect against the outbreak Sudan Ebola strain to allow trials to begin in Uganda, according to Reuters, which cited the vaccine's developers and company sources.

Developed by researchers at Oxford University, the vaccine  prompted an immune response against both the Sudan and Zaire Ebola strains in phase 1 trials. Vaccine makers are waiting on approval from Ugandan regulators for trials of the vaccine to begin in the outbreak area.

Currently, there are no vaccines or treatments approved to battle Sudan Ebola. There is one other Sudan Ebola vaccine in clinical trials, developed by the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Last week, Uganda's health ministry said that they will try the two vaccines. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said a clinical trial could start within weeks.

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