The Ministry of Health has insisted that the MTN Marathon posed no risk of Ebola transmission among the participants.
In a statement, the ministry said this was based on assessment by scientists.
“The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that following consultations with the technical officers, the Ministry cleared and authorized the MTN 2022 Marathon after assessing that the event posed no risk of Ebola transmission among the participants,” the statement issued on Monday, 21 November 2022 reads in part.
Earlier, the government came under attack from various sections of the public who accused it of double standards for closing schools and putting two districts under a lockdown over Ebola and yet allowing the marathon, a gathering of tens of thousands of people.
But the ministry said unlike COVID-19, the risk of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) transmission and spread is highest when people are symptomatic (presenting with signs and symptoms).
“With the screening measures in place at the MTN Kampala Marathon, no participant presented with any other symptom. Furthermore, symptomatic EVD patients can barely engage in rigorous activities like running and aerobics,” the ministry said.
“Kampala Metropolitan Area has not registered cases beyond those that were under quarantine, having been contacts to confirmed cases recorded in Kampala. It is important to note that isolating contacts early before they manifest the disease ably curbs the transmission. This has worked well for Kampala alongside other measures like active surveillance,” the ministry added.
It added that beyond the MTN Kampala Marathon, it has previously cleared a number of events, including music concerts after undertaking Ebola risk assessment and organisers demonstrating availability of preventive measures.
“The Ministry of Health applauds all event organisers who continuously seek clearance prior to their activities. The Ministry of Health wishes to extend its appreciation to MTN and all its stakeholders for organising a successful marathon whose proceeds are geared towards improvement of child health care,” the ministry said.
Critics wondered how the government will continue to discourage crowding in the Ebola fight yet it allowed the MTN Marathon, which was even attended by top health ministers and officials, to go on on Sunday, 20 November 2022.
National Unity Platform (NUP) party president Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, slammed the government to closing schools to control Ebola spread and yet allowed the marathon to go on.
“Today regime officials graced a marathon with thousands of people. Robina Nabbanja, Diana Atwiine from the Ministry of Health, etc! The same regime has kept the people of Mubende and Kassanda under a lockdown to apparently control ebola and closed schools two weeks before time,” Bobi Wine said.
“The citizens are asking- is there an outbreak of ebola in Uganda, or is it a stunt being used to siphon public funds and money from donors? If there is an outbreak, does it only operate in schools? Our country is ruled by criminals who are not even competent to run a sub-county. We all remember how they used COVID19 to carry out grand theft of public funds and money from donors. Of course they also used COVID19 to constrain civic liberties and control dissent. It is a shame that they have made a joke of everything, including public health,” he added.