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Uganda declares end to Ebola outbreak

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

Uganda has declared the end of the Ebola disease outbreak caused by the Sudan Ebolavirus.

This is coming 42 days after the last confirmed cases in Uganda.

The Ministry of Health in Uganda and the World Health Organisation (WHO) had on September 20, 2022, confirmed an outbreak of Ebolavirus Disease in Mubende District, Uganda, after one fatal case was confirmed.

This Ebola outbreak was caused by the Sudan Ebolavirus, one of six species of the Ebola virus against which no therapeutics and vaccines have been approved yet. 

A press statement issued by the WHO on Wednesday noted that it was the country’s first Sudan ebolavirus outbreak in a decade and its fifth overall for this kind of Ebola. 

“In total, there were 164 cases (142 confirmed and 22 probable), 55 confirmed deaths, and 87 recovered patients. More than 4000 people who came in contact with confirmed cases were followed up and their health monitored for 21 days.

Overall, the case-fatality ratio was 47 per cent. 

“The last patient was released from care on November 30, when the 42-day countdown to the end of the outbreak began, the statement read in part,” WHO said.

The statement quoted Uganda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Acero as saying, “Uganda put a swift end to the Ebola outbreak by ramping up key control measures such as surveillance, contact tracing, and infection, prevention and control. 

“While we expanded our efforts to put a strong response in place across the nine affected districts, the magic bullet has been our communities who understood the importance of doing what was needed to end the outbreak, and took action.”

Congratulating Uganda for its robust and comprehensive response, the WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said Uganda has shown that Ebola can be defeated when the whole system works together.

“From having an alert system in place to finding and caring for people affected and their contacts to gaining the full participation of affected communities in the response. Lessons learned and the systems put in place for this outbreak will protect Ugandans and others in the years ahead.”

 Also, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said, “With no vaccines and therapeutics, this was one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks in the past five years, but Uganda stayed the course and continuously fine-tuned its response.

Two months ago, it looked as if Ebola would cast a dark shadow over the country well into 2023, as the outbreak reached major cities such as Kampala and Jinja, but this win starts off the year on a note of great hope for Africa.”

Uganda declared the Sudan ebolavirus outbreak, WHO worked with a large range of partners, including vaccine developers, researchers, donors, and the Ugandan health authorities to identify candidate therapeutics and vaccines for inclusion in trials. 

Three candidate vaccines were identified and over 5,000 doses of these arrived in the country with the first batch on December 8 and the last two on December 17. 

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