Paris, Tuesday, November 8, 2022 – It is a country of 47 million inhabitants which is now facing a race against time. On September 11, 2022, a 24-year-old man from a village in Uganda’s Mubende district showed the first signs of being infected with the Sudanese strain of Ebola virus. He will die on September 19.
Initially isolated to a single village, cases of infection were listed on September 25 in several remote districts, in Kyewgegwa, in Kassanda then in Kagadi, without it being now possible to trace the chains of contamination.
Despite the efforts put in place very early on by the authorities and by teams from the World Health Organization, a first case of Ebola was reported on October 12 in the capital Kampala (1.6 million inhabitants).
Containment extended for several districts
A spread that prompted the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, to order in mid-October a containment of the two main centers of the epidemic, Mubende (550,000 inhabitants) and Kassanda (33,000 inhabitants). A measure extended on November 5 by the Minister of Health, with a travel ban for residents and the closure of public places.
Although the country regularly faces the appearance of cases imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this epidemic is the largest the country has experienced since 2012 (24 confirmed cases for 17 deaths) and especially since 2001 (425 cases for 224 death).
Disinformation and trade
The spread of the virus in Uganda is particularly feared by the authorities. While the poverty rate has fallen significantly in the country, from 56% in 1993 to 21.6% in 2016, the country is now crossed by many trade routes that promote trade and must accommodate many refugees from neighboring countries.
In addition to the difficulty linked to the control of cross-border movements, the central power fears the consequences of misinformation on the behavior of the population. According to the Minister of Health, Jane Aceng, the first villages affected by the disease attributed the appearance of Ebola cases to witchcraft.
Task forces set up in the villages have been tasked with warning the population in the event of a suspicious death in the communities, so as not to miss any undeclared cluster, funeral rites being known to be one of the modes of contamination and spread of the disease.
No vaccine for the Sudanese branch of the virus
The other cause for concern for the authorities is the absence of an effective vaccine against the Sudanese branch of Ebolavirus, identified as responsible for the epidemic.
If 51 people have died of the disease as of November 5, the president has ruled out the idea of strict national confinement of the population, like that experienced by the country during the Covid-19 epidemic.
However, the country can count on the help of the WHO as well as the United States, which urgently sent a CDC team, Remdesivir, as well as an experimental combination treatment of MBP134 antibodies to help professionals. health, who often pay a heavy price in the face of illness.
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Ebola: Uganda chooses local containment to curb the epidemic
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