MUBENDE, UGANDA: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, January 11, declared an end to the Ebola epidemic in Uganda.
"Today marks the end of the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, four months after the first cases were reported," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, in a statement.
"I congratulate the government, the people of Uganda and health workers, some of whom lost their lives, for their leadership and dedication in bringing this outbreak to an end."
The WHO considers an epidemic over when there are no new cases for 42 consecutive days - twice the incubation period for Ebola infections.
"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," said Ruth Aceng, Uganda's Minister of Health, during a ceremony at the central Mubende district, the epicentre of the outbreak.
Aceng said January 11 marked 113 days since the start of the epidemic, which had spread to nine districts, including the capital Kampala.
This latest outbreak, first reported on September 20, was caused by the Sudan Ebola virus, one of six species of the Ebola virus and for which there is currently no confirmed vaccine.
"This was one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks in the past five years, but Uganda stayed the course and continuously fine-tuned its response," said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa.
The WHO said there had been 142 confirmed cases, 55 confirmed deaths and 87 recovered patients, with children among the victims.
In December, the country received three new vaccines to help fight the outbreak - one by the University of Oxford and Serum Institute of India, another by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and a third by Merck (MRK.N), which were to be deployed in a clinical trial to test their effectiveness against the virus.
But by that point, there were no new cases. Health officials say the last confirmed patient was discharged from the hospital on November 30.
The WHO country representative, Yonas Tegren Woldemariam, said they would soon meet to discuss the next steps for the vaccines.
bird story agency