Uganda's health minister says deadly Ebola outbreak is over

© AFP - Badru Katumba

Uganda on Wednesday declared an end to an Ebola virus outbreak that emerged almost four months ago and claimed the lives of 55 people.

"We have successfully controlled the Ebola outbreak in Uganda," Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said at a ceremony in the central district of Mubende, where the disease was first detected in September.

The move was confirmed in a statement issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), whose chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the East African country's "robust and comprehensive response" to the widely-feared haemorrhagic fever.

Aceng said 11 January marked 113 days since the start of the epidemic, which also spread to the capital Kampala.

Under the WHO's criteria, an outbreak of the disease officially ends when there are no new cases for 42 consecutive days -- twice the virus's incubation period.

"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," the WHO statement quoted the minister as saying.

"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."

WHO said in total there had been 142 confirmed cases, 55 confirmed deaths and 87 recovered patients, with children among the victims.

Uganda's outbreak was caused by the Sudan Ebola virus, one of six species of the Ebola virus and for which there is currently no confirmed vaccine.


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