Uganda’s President HE Yoweri Museveni has extended quarantine measures in the two districts of Kassanda and Mubende for another 21 days, citing the need to protect gains in the fight against the virus.

This marks the third renewal of lockdowns in the two districts, and authorities are hopeful it will be the last. Movement in and out of the districts was first restricted on 15 October, and renewed for another 21 days on 5 November. The measures include a curfew and the closure of social spaces like churches, bars and markets.

“It may be too early to celebrate success, but overall, I have been briefed that the picture is good,” Museveni said in a televised address delivered by vice-president Jessica Alupo. While the situation is “still fragile”, Museveni said Ugandan health authorities are “very optimistic” that the outbreak will end “in the coming month.”

The government’s optimism is buoyed by Uganda’s continued progress in stamping out the outbreak. Three districts have completed over 42 days since the last case of Ebola was detected, while six districts – including the epicentres of Kassanda and Mubende as well as the capital, Kampala – remain in “follow-up” protocols.

The virus has so far claimed 56 lives, while another 22 probable Ebola deaths were registered before the government issued its official declaration of the outbreak on 20 September.

“If we open now and a case appears, we will have destroyed all the gains we have made in this war,” Museveni said. “Our healthcare workers will continue to do all it takes to save lives and bring the epidemic to an end.”

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