At least six people have died in Uganda’s latest Ebola outbreak

Another 18 deaths are suspected to have been caused by the disease

At least six people have now died in Uganda’s latest Ebola outbreak, while another 18 deaths are suspected to have been caused by the disease. In total there have been 31 confirmed cases and 19 suspected. At least two people have recovered after contracting it.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said that he would not order a lockdown, saying it was “not necessary” as Ebola was not airborne so was harder to transmit from person to person. “[The] government has [the] capacity to control this outbreak as we have done before,” he said. “There is no need for anxiety, no restrictions of movements, closure of schools, places of worship, markets, as of now.” Uganda had one of the strictest Covid-19 lockdowns in the world, with a curfew imposed and schools shut for nearly two years.

Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever which spreads through the transfer of bodily fluids. Symptoms include vomiting, aches and pains, fatigue, and unexplained haemorrhaging. Deaths can result from severe dehydration or organ failure.

The current outbreak is the Sudan strain of Ebola. There is not currently a vaccine for it, unlike the Zaire strain – outbreaks of which now trigger ring vaccination campaigns. The Zaire strain of Ebola was the one seen in the 2018-2020 outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where it resulted in nearly 2,300 deaths, and in west Africa between 2014 and 2016, when more than 11,000 people died.


On Tuesday the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an end to its 15th Ebola outbreak, which was genetically linked to the 2018-2020 outbreak, but this time killed just one person.

Uganda – an east African country of roughly 45 million people – has had previous Ebola outbreaks in the past, including a 2000 one in the country’s north which led to more than 200 deaths. This is the first Ebola disease outbreak caused by the Sudan strain of Ebola in Uganda since 2012.

The World Health Organisation said the current outbreak – which was declared on September 20th – was detected late. The first confirmed case was a 24-year-old man who developed symptoms on September 11th. He visited two private healthcare clinics, and was eventually isolated in a regional referral hospital on September 15th. He died in Mubende district, central Uganda, on September 19th.

In the aftermath a number of other prior deaths from the same community were discovered and deemed to most likely have been caused by Ebola.

Three districts of Uganda have since been affected: Mubende, Kassanda and Kyegegwa. Some 414 contacts had been identified, according to the WHO.

On Wednesday Mr Museveni said six medical workers were among those infected and receiving treatment.

Sally Hayden

Sally Hayden

Sally Hayden, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports on Africa