Uganda witnesses drop in Ebola cases

APA-Kampala (Uganda)

Ugandan health officials say they have noticed a drop in the number of Ebola infections in the country, where no new cases have been reported for at least two weeks.

This is the first encouraging sign that the rate of infection is losing momentum since the outbreak of the disease in the middle of the country began on September. 

Kassanda district is one of the epicentres of the outbreak which has claimed the lives of over 50 people in Uganda, where restrictions have been in place ever since.

In an interview with local media on Wednesday Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng said there has been a noticeable downward spiral in Ebola cases after the first week of November.

She also said not new infections have been reported in the capital Kampala and its outlying areas including in Jinja and Masaka. 

Her ministry said to date 141 cases of the hemorrhagic disease have been confirmed but gave no details of the reasons for the drop in the number of infections.

Last month, health ministers from nine African countries agreed on joint measures to stop the potential spread of the ongoing Ebola disease outbreak in Uganda and beyond its borders.

An assessment conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) found that the risk of the Sudan ebolavirus spreading to neighbouring countries was high due to cross border movements between Uganda and other countries. 

The population is mobile due to trade, social and cultural connections. 

In addition, the country hosts many refugees who continue to keep ties with their countries of origin.

Recognizing the importance of collaborative efforts, the government of Uganda, with support from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and WHO hosted a High-Level Emergency Ministerial meeting on Cross Border Collaboration for Preparedness and Response to Ebola Disease Outbreaks in Kampala.

The meeting concluded with a communique in which health ministers and senior government officials from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda endorsed key measures to prevent the cross-border spread of the Sudan strain of the virus. 

These include disease surveillance, contact tracing and monitoring, prompt alert notification, information sharing and joint trainings of emergency responders, as well as carrying out simulation exercises to enhance preparedness and response.

As no effective vaccine against the Sudan ebolavirus has been licenced yet, Ugandan health authorities have focused on supportive care for confirmed cases alongside stepping up testing, surveillance, infection prevention and control, as well as collaborating with communities to support disease prevention measures.

There are at least six candidate vaccines against Sudan ebolavirus, which are in different stages of development. 

Three of them have Phase1 data (safety and immunogenicity data in humans), and the remaining are in the preclinical evaluation phase.


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