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20 Feb 2008 18:30
Uganda is officially free of the deadly Ebola virus, which killed 37 people in the East African country last year, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Forty-two days passed with no new infections—long enough to be sure that there were no cases still in the incubation stage, said the country’s Health Minister, Dr Steven Malinga.
“I am therefore happy to inform the country and general public that Ebola has been contained. Today I declare that the Ebola has been eradicated in Uganda,” he told reporters in the capital, Kampala.
Last year, an outbreak of a new strain of Ebola killed 37 people and infected 149 in Bundibugyo—a remote district close to the Congolese border, about 200km from Kampala.
The diagnosis of Ebola sparked panic in Uganda and paralysed business activities in much of the western region where shops and hotels closed.
Health Ministry officials advised the public against shaking hands or other close contact.
Though the outbreak began in August, the killer disease was not diagnosed until late November because the classic Ebola symptoms were not always present.
Ebola has no cure or treatment. It typically kills most of those it strikes through massive blood loss. It is spread through direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person, or objects that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
In 2000, an outbreak of Ebola in northern Uganda killed more than 100 people.
Globally, more than 1 850 human cases and 1 200 deaths from Ebola have been recorded since the virus was first identified in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.—Sapa-AP
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