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Uganda’s president extends quarantine of Ebola epicenter for 21 days

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KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has extended quarantine in two districts, the epicenter of the country’s Ebola outbreak, by 21 days, adding that his government’s response to the disease has been successful.

Traffic to and from Mubende and Kassanda districts in central Uganda will be restricted until Dec. 17, the presidency said late Saturday. It was originally imposed for 21 days on October 15, then extended for the same period on November 5.

The expansion was “to further preserve the gains we’ve made in Ebola control and to protect the rest of the country from continued exposure.”

The government’s anti-Ebola efforts have been successful, as two districts are now without new cases for about two weeks, the president said.

“It may be too early to celebrate successes, but overall I’ve heard the picture is good,” he said in a statement.

The East African country has registered 141 infections so far. Fifty-five people have died since the deadly hemorrhagic fever outbreak was declared on September 20.

While the outbreak was gradually brought under control, the “situation is still fragile,” Museveni said, adding that the country’s weak health system and the spread of misinformation about the disease remained a challenge.

The Ebola virus circulating in Uganda is the Sudan strain, for which there is no proven vaccine, unlike the more common Zaire strain, which has spread in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo during recent outbreaks.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Duncan Miriri and Kim Coghill)

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