Leaked documents: Ugandan government expects explosion in Ebola cases, 500 deaths by May

These projections, if accurate, would make the current outbreak the deadliest in Uganda's history.

Kampala market
A market in Kampala, Uganda - markets are closed in other districts but remain open in the capital.

No one can predict the future when it comes to infectious diseases, especially one as difficult to manage as Ebola. But governments find planning essential for responding to emergencies.

Such is the case in Uganda, where officials leaked documents to the press that reveal their expectations of 500 Ebola deaths by May. These projections, if accurate, would make the current outbreak the deadliest in Uganda's history, far exceeding the 2000 outbreak that killed 224 people.

Sarah Newey, writing for the Telegraph, has the scoop:

Uganda’s Ebola outbreak is expected to become one of the deadliest within six months, according to leaked government projections which point to 1,200 cases and 500 fatalities by late April.
The modelling, drawn up by the Ugandan Ministry of Health, estimates that 250 people will die by January in the spiralling epidemic, rising to 499 by the spring.
It comes amid signs that the mistakes of secrecy and prevarication which characterised the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan are being repeated in Uganda.

At the time of this writing, 74 deaths have been reported from 156 total cases. The case fatality rate of 54% remains high, and appears to inform the government's 2023 projections for the spread of the virus.

Leaked government projections
Leaked projections from the Uganda government, as reported in the Telegraph

This information is crucial for understanding the current situation in Uganda and the steps that need to be taken to contain the outbreak. It suggests the government does not expect the virus to be contained or "burn out," but rather expects an explosion of cases.

The Telegraph also reports that the current response "repeats the mistakes of Wuhan:"

Insiders say a “toxic” atmosphere has developed. Relations between the authoritarian government and international agencies on the ground are tense, while many local officials have been alienated and feel unable to raise issues or challenge their superiors.

PPE shortages and limited food supplies for those in quarantine appear to be contributing to the increase in cases.

If the leaked projections hold, this will be the third deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. The announcement that schools will be closing nationwide in Uganda also underscores the growing intensity of the situation.

As the current strain of Ebola does not have a vaccine, containment will prove difficult. Despite President Museveni's strong statements that Uganda will not implement a national lockdown, these projections suggest that the odds of such a move are not as low as some might think.

Will Ebola spread beyond Uganda?

So far, in 2022, no countries outside of Uganda have seen Ebola cases. For now, the current outbreak seems to be confined there. However, as cases grow, the prospect of spread increases. Growing interconnectivity and globalization will make it potentially easier for Ebola to reach other countries.

Ebola-Cases.com tracks global data on the 2022 Ebola virus disease outbreak. You can refer to the United States page to track the number of Ebola cases in the United States in 2022. Because the site is updated daily, this will be one of the first places you will be able to go to view information about any Ebola outbreak in the United States. We will also aggregate and share any information about the number of American Ebola cases and deaths on our Twitter account, so be sure to follow it for up-to-date information on the 2022 Ebola outbreak.