Uganda’s Minister of Education, Janet Kataha Museveni, said on Tuesday that government would shorten the school term by two weeks to reduce daily contact amongst students and help curb the spread of Ebola.
Authorities have been struggling to contain the highly infectious and deadly haemorrhagic fever since the epidemic spilled into the capital Kampala, home to around two million people.
As of Monday, the country had recorded a total of 135 confirmed cases and 53 deaths, according to the health ministry.
The minister said the cabinet had taken a decision to close pre-schools, primary schools, and secondary schools on November 25, because densely packed classrooms made students highly vulnerable to infection.
“Closing schools earlier will reduce areas of concentration where children are in daily close contact with fellow children, teachers, and other staff who could potentially spread the virus,” Museveni said in a statement.
Students in Uganda are currently in their third and final term for the calendar year, at the end of which they sit promotional exams.
Among children, 23 cases have been confirmed, of which eight have died, said Museveni, who is also the president’s wife.
The virus circulating in Uganda is the Sudan strain of Ebola, for which there is no proven vaccine, unlike the more common Zaire strain that spread during recent outbreaks in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ebola generally kills about half of the people it infects.