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Schools In Uganda Are Closed Early For Christmas Due To Ebola Fears

With Ebola concerns on the rise, Uganda has taken the extraordinary step of changing school holidays to avoid contact with a broader population. Schools are closed across the country. The move follows an announcement by the government that all public gatherings, including Christmas Eve, will be cancelled because of Ebola. Although Uganda has not seen any cases of Ebola so far, the World Health Organization has warned that there is a "high risk" of its spread in Africa.

Uganda's Prime Minister said on Friday that public and private schools would close early at the end of this month, at the end of term three, instead of waiting until term four began in January. The change will allow the government to wipe out any potential virus that could have been brought back from trips during the holidays, reports The Guardian. To date, Uganda has not had any confirmed cases of Ebola.

The move comes after it was reported that one-third of all districts in Sierra Leone are closed due to a lack of teachers.

The closure follows news that the Ebola outbreak in west Africa may be "vastly" underestimated, according to the United Nations. The WHO Assistant Director-General said on Friday, "The number of cases is likely to be vastly underestimated." A man who had come there from the western Mubende district, the outbreak's epicenter, was connected to the infections in the city.

Quarantine difficulties

Over the past 22 years, Uganda has dealt with a number of Ebola outbreaks, but this one is by far the largest and has been detected in nine districts, mainly in the central regions. This outbreak is of the Sudan strain, like four others before it, unlike the more widespread Zaire strain that caused the biggest Ebola outbreak in West African history. Neither a vaccine nor a therapy has been licensed for this strain.


Though few specifics regarding how and on whom they will be conducted are available, the government has announced that trials for three vaccines will start in the upcoming weeks.


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